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The "transformative experience" of working in a Stanford stem-cell lab

Jeffrey Yu - smallThis summer we've been sharing the experiences of high-school students in the Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program. Yesterday, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which helps fund the program, published on its blog the thoughts of Jeffrey Lu, who has been working in the lab of Michael Clarke, MD. Lu writes of his foray into the world of stem cells:

Coming into this internship, my idea of science was rote memorization and doing “experiments”, which were always pre-made and no different from following an instruction manual. I had an even shallower knowledge of stem cells. Apart from a vague understanding of the controversial embryonic stem cells and it’s regenerative potential, I knew close to nothing. Little did I know... that I was in for a transformative experience.

Expecting to pipette clear liquids into tubes monotonously for eight hours a day, I did just that. That is, until I realized why I was doing the things I did, [and] it all started to make sense. From reading lengthy papers that made my brain hurt, to filling 92 wells in one sitting, this combination of high speed learning and AP biology lab on steroids gave me a heaping plate of what science truly was. I came to realized the methods, purpose, and direction behind every experiment done, the trial and error, the expected and actual outcomes. It was a revelation. Before this experience, science had been nothing but memorizing plant physiology and biological processes. Science to me now... is a persistent yet methodical and intelligently constructed game plan to answering questions about the natural world around us, and this self-discovery was worth the entire experience.

Previously: Image of the Week: CIRM intern Brian Woo’s summer project, Image of the Week: CIRM intern Christina Bui’s summer project, A look at one high-school student’s summer internship experience at Stanford, I know what you did this summer: High-school interns share their experiences at Stanford, Stanford’s med school training programs in full swing and Stanford summer research intern named finalist in national science competition
Photo from the #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram

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