Today's students are faced with mountains of knowledge -- accumulations of centuries of research. Yet, despite the prevalence of information, science is most often furthered by those who are able to question, and therefore discover. Through the Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance (SIMI), students and teachers learn ways to become lifelong explorers. SIMI is a two-month program that employs disadvantaged high school students and K-12 science teachers in university laboratories, giving them "brain-on," hands-on experiences while learning questioning techniques. The program is centered on the concept of medical ignorance; namely, things we know we don't know (current research), things we don't know we don't know (future discoveries) and things we think we know, but don't (false knowledge). Born from The University of Arizona's Curriculum on Medical Ignorance, SIMI uses the foundations of Q-cubed (questions, questioning and questioners) to help students participate in the quest for new ideas. As students and teachers begin to question, their ability to understand and to influence others is increased, as is their potential to impact medical and other fields.


Gain understanding of the shifting domains of ignorance, uncertainty, and the unknown, as well as the philosophical and psychological foundations of learning, questioning and creating knowledge.

Appreciate the history and development of selected ideas and methods in basic and clinical medicine.

Explore, in depth, the numerous topics that exist in medical ignorance today.

Improve skills to recognize and deal productively with ignorance, uncertainty and the unknown.

Question critically and creatively focus on raising, listening to, analyzing, prioritizing and answering questions from different points of view.

Communicate clearly in different media with various audiences, and collaborate effectively with different people and other resources.

Reinforce positive attitudes and values of curiosity, optimism, humility, self-confidence and skepticism.


Summer Research: ~25 students and ~10 teachers are accepted for the SIMI program each year. Students work full-time in various medical laboratories and clinics at The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, doing research on such subjects as cardiovascular disease, genetics, cancer, neuroscience and preventive medicine. Teachers are provided a sampling of hands-on research experiences as well as the opportunity to update their knowledge and skills using modern research tools and techniques and web-based communication technology.

Seminars and clinics on medical ignorance

Semi-annual Q-cubed conferences for teachers and health professionals

Student and teacher research presentations and publications

Questioning exercises and creative-thinking activities

Weekly "ignorance logs" for student and teacher questions

Final oral and written reports on research topics in medical ignorance

(No experience necessary)

The Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance, sponsored by NIH-SEPA:
Teacher salary ~$1,800 (three-week session), and student wages ~$1,600 (seven-week session)

Regional and national student networking

Q-cubed lesson transformations and mini-grants for teachers

Faculty and advanced student mentors, for in-depth research experience and career/specialty advising, as well as other support

Valuable contacts and experience for college applications, resumes and career advancement

Research prizes and awards