2,893 Inspirational Passion Project Ideas
Turn inspirations into your passion project.
This collection of project ideas, shared by Polygence mentors, is meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.
- Comp Sci
- Creative Writing
- Environmental Science
- Game Design
- Literature and Languages
- Organizational Leadership
- Public Health
- Social Science
- Sports Analytics
Does age impact symptoms of auto-immune disease?
Create a literature review aimed at understanding the impact age can have on auto-immune disease symptoms. Students will build skills reading scientific articles and summarizing findings from various sources. With this literature review, students can propose how we can enhance a patient's quality of life, based on their findings. They can make this proposal in a paper or other format, whichever they prefer.
Model organisms for neuroscience research
This porject will dive into different model organisms used in neuroscience research. You will research the current model organisms and detail their advantages and disadvantages as well as what therapeutics have been developed with this organism. You will also research and propose a model organism to be used in neuroscience research.
Biotech, Cancer, Neuroscience
Market Landscape Assessment (Disease of your Choice!)
Have you ever wanted to understand the key drivers of a particular market. What makes one company invest so much in one disease but not another? What are they key pieces of information healthcare companies are thinking about when exploring a new disease area? In this project, you will learn the principles/fundamentals of how to properly analyze a market of a particular disease of interest. Key principles/fundamentals include: market size, disease overview, current treatment practices/paradigms, key unmet needs, competition, pipeline/clinical trials, payer insurance/coverage. Once you learn these fundamentals, you will choose a disease of interest and conduct a comprehensive market landscape report that touches on all these key metrics and wrap up with a detailed SWOT analysis. You will then create a summary, based on your findings and analysis, that outlines the future trends of this particular disease market.
Biotech, Public Health
Introduction to Data Science
Data is an increasingly important resource across both public and private sectors. Over the last 20 years, the quantity and quality of data accessible to make informed decisions have increased exponentially. This rise in data availability and quantity has led to a need for professionals who can organize and make meaningful analyses from increasingly large datasets. Given my experience in working with large data sets in the context of biology/neuroscience, I can envision multiple projects where we can work together to identify a big-data question, find appropriate datasets, filter the data set, and work towards making meaningful analyses from this dataset in the context of the questions of interest, and ultimately create deliverables (Github code, peer-reviewed publications, and websites).
Biotech, Neuroscience, AI/ML
Evolutionary genomic study of shark cartilage mineralization
There has been a recent flurry of whole genome sequencing of sharks such as the great white shark (2019), the brownbanded bamboo shark (2018), cloudy catshark (2018) and whale shark (2018). The new availability of these genomes makes it a prime candidate for study. Sharks are fascinating and slow evolving creatures. You can choose to focus on genes related to cartilage and bone development, aligning the shark whole genomes to known cartilage forming genes and bone forming genes. Cartilaginous fish such as sharks and bony fish diverged over 450 million years ago. Cartilage is the precursor to bone. Comparing these two groups could create better insight into the evolution of bone mineralization genes. For a more translational project, you may choose to align the shark genomes to the mouse or human genomes and look into genes involved in cartilage or bone development diseases.
A computer-based project looking at the structure and evolutionary history of a particular protein family
After learning the basics of biochemistry and molecular evolution, you would choose an interesting and exciting family of proteins and collect a large number of protein sequences from many different families. After aligning the positions in this family, you could build a phylogenetic tree and compare your tree to experimentally solved structures of the protein and its known functional properties. This would culminate in a research report hypothesizing about how the different functions of proteins in this family may have diverged and proposing possible future experiments. Does not require programming experience, but for an interested student, we could incorporate some coding!
Write a review article about your immune cell of choice and how it behaves during infection or against cancer.
Choose an important immune cell of choice such as a Natural Killer cell, T cell, B cell or dendritic cell. Together we will describe the journey this cell takes on its infection or tumor fighting mission. We will use other review and primary research articles to understand this process. We will then write an article outlining this process which will include graphics we can create using a free software that allows the generation of powerful and detailed biological processes.
Role of CRISPR in Gene Therapies:
As big data is changing the way we approach science, CRIRSP is an emerging technology that many people believe will revolutionize the way we think about food, health, disease. In this project we can dive deep into how CRISPR works and think about where/what parts of the DNA we can target with CRISPR. We will think of outcomes that one will get if you modulate a certain gene, and the potential ethical consequences of gene modification.
Bioinformatics analysis to discover the molecular nature of a disease (e.g. cancer) and propose new drug targets
Recent years have seen an explosion of publicly available genomic datasets related to human health and disease. Among the most powerful datasets available today are single cell RNA sequencing datasets, which capture information about which genes are active in thousands of individual cells. By studying the differences in scRNAseq data between healthy cells and those with a disease (e.g. a tumor vs normal tissue), we can learn about how the disease works on a molecular level and even identify new drugs to treat the disease. This bioinformatics approach can be applied to any disease with publicly available scRNAseq data, such as many forms of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and asthma. Datasets can be downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) and the European Nucleotide Archive (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena/). Students conducting a project of this type will gain skills in gathering publicly available sequencing data, genomics analysis and visualization in Python, and statistical tests used in biomedical research. Along the way, students will learn about the fundamental biology of the disease they choose to study.
Biotech, Biology, Comp Sci, Statistics
Going viral: endogenous retroviruses in immunity
Did you know that 8% of our DNA is made up of viral sequences? Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are fossilized sequences of past retroviral infections that have become fixed in our genome. This project will explore basic questions around ERV expression and regulation in human health and disease.
Changing in the Workforce in Medicine
Analysis of AAMC data regarding changes in the workforce over the last 20 years. Trends in gender, race, location, and number would be analyzed.
Biotech, Cancer, Neuroscience
Folate pathway enzymes as cancer targets
Brief Introduction about the project: Some of the folate enzymes are expressed in embryonic development and not in adult tissues but showed overexpression in various cancer types including breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. These enzymes can be potential targets of cancer treatment as they might have low off-target toxicities. Modern day technologies (computational or experimental) provide ample opportunities to screen these targets and design different molecules which can become drugs to treat these diseases and can benefit the patients in clinic. In this project, you will design a research project that can be completed at any place viz-a-viz home/school, gather data, analyze the data and observe how enzymes work in the body and how their function gets affected in the diseases like cancer and present that data as either a scientific poster or talk. You will learn about the scientific process, how to construct appropriate figures for your data, and how to communicate your results in a formal presentation.
Perception, Art, and the Human Brain
Interested to learn how we perceive the world? How our eyes captures the images and our human brain decodes it? Are you interested in learning how our brain functions? Do you want to learn how the brain evolves from childhood to adulthood? Or how does music, dance, art, or other creative art form effect the brain? In the project, I would like to explore the anatomy and the function of each of the brain's component. I want to describe the activity associated with each structure, how we perceive the world, and the understanding of brain diseases to better understand how to cure them. We will also explore how different creative art forms impact human brain and how it can be used to slow down neurodegenerative diseases.
Go with the (Blood) Flow
MRI imaging of the thoracic cavity is a vital tool for the diagnoses and development of treatment plans regarding cardiovascular disease and lung functional abnormalities. A patient is required to remain very still while undergoing MRI because movement can cause artifacts in the results, where movement causes the images to be unclear. The problem is, the heart is always moving, always beating, and the lungs only stop moving for as long as one is not breathing. For the brains behind the code of a magnetic resonance imaging device to have a decent shot at advancing the code to the point where lung and heart movement are accounted for and no longer cause image blurring, they need a phantom heart, a stand-in, one with periodic flow and movement, to optimize their code around. Do you think you can design a system that replicates blood flow, heart movement, and (here's the catch) contains no metal pieces? I think you can :)
If you have any other ideas...
I am open to your own ideas too! Happy to discuss them, the above are projects I would be happy to do, but also you may use them to gain an idea of my interests and skillsets I could provide as a mentor.
3. Conduct University-level Research in Drug Delivery
Are you interested in conducting research on drug delivery systems at the university level? While it can seem intimidating to get started in academic labs led by leading professors in their fields, this project will go through the most important factors for maximizing the chances of landing a position in an academic lab at local, highly ranked research institution. Through this project, the student will be introduced to i) techniques for applying to existing stipends for university-level research as a high schooler, ii) tips for identifying cogent areas of a professor’s research that a student could shadow under and possibly contribute to, iii) techniques useful in developing an effective research proposal in a given timeline, and iv) potential connections to renowned faculty in bioengineering, chemistry, and nanotechnology. The scope of this project may consist of three phases: i) identifying a specific research area in drug delivery and finding potential labs that the student can request to work under, ii) developing an understanding of the scientific literature in the desired field of drug discovery and in these labs in particular, and iii) crafting emails including short posters/presentations which demonstrate vested interest in a given laboratory and applying to work experiences as a high schooler interested in drug delivery research.
Brain-Computer Interfaces: Where are they now, where could they go?
Brain-Computer Interfaces are a hot-button topic within the Biomedical Engineering community right now. Scientists have been using them in a variety of applications stemming from prosthetics to data collection to use for machine learning. In this project, we dive deep into the use of brain-computer interfaces for disease detection and diagnosis to uncover the current progress being made in this field and its current trajectory.
Statistics, Engineering, Sports Analytics, Biotech
Science Communication Zine, Pamphlet, or prints
This project would involve a skill that most folks struggle with in science: communicating results and their relevance clearly, accurately, succinctly, and most importantly in an engaging manner. While this is helpful for the lay audience, it is also helpful for many researchers because of the increasing value of an ecological perspective in biomedical research, requiring a greater breadth in knowledge. Thus this project would require reading literature relevant to a scientific topic I have knowledge in (immunology, neurobiology, neurodegeneration, behavior, but more could be discussed) or about some aspect of philosophy of science,(some examples would be progress through history, or competing philosophies and how they are now represented in current fields I mentioned above). The project product will be a short zine/pamphlet/poster that will display the information that you find most interesting or crucial for the intended audience with the aesthetics you think would be most fitting for the topic and the most engaging. From this project you will gain skills in presentation of ideas and data which is a very important aspect in science.
Literature review on a topic related to protein structure, evolution, dynamics or design
Proteins are extraordinary molecular machines that carry out the vast majority of essential biological functions in your body - from breaking down sugar into energy to firing neurons in your brain - and here you will be able to explore in depth a topic related to the chemical and physical foundations about how these incredible nanoscale machines perform their functions; how they originated through evolution and continue to evolve today; or how we might be able to leverage this knowledge to design new proteins. We would begin with a series of more broad sessions before narrowing down on a specific subtopic, learn to engage with primary literature, and summarize your findings through a blog post or news article.
Concepts of cell migration: how to improve the current understanding of chemotaxis
Cell migration has been studied extensively, but is such a complex topic that there are still many holes in what we know. There are also a variety of methods that have been used to study chemotaxis over the years in order to to better understand migratory functions. A detailed look into what is currently known, the methods currently available, what is lacking in our current understanding, and what can be done to fill this gap in the current understanding of chemotaxis. The project can include putting together a review of current literature topics, and methods surrounding cell migration and chemotaxis. The project can then also involve conceptualizing a method or system to help better study chemotaxis in vivo or in vitro.
Biotech, Biology, Cancer