From crunching bioinformatics data to shadowing physicians to creating 3D interactive anatomy models, high school and college students are developing new skills and expanding their knowledge through the School of Medicine's summer educational programs. A story published in today's Inside Stanford Medicine offers an overview of the programs, highlights students' experiences and explains how such opportunities are vital to producing future generations of scientists.
I found the participants' comments on their experience particularly interesting:
Mark Nishimura, 17, of Palo Alto High School, sits at a computer and, with a few strokes of the keys, tinkers with the behavior of genes. The computer chugs through a huge collection of data on the amounts of different genes produced in disease states, and Nishimura looks at how adding new factors affects the web of gene interaction. His project, part of his internship with the Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program, could find the molecular basis of illness for some patients. “The work is about doing something meaningful, which is something I never really got in high school,” said Nishimura, who is working in the lab of Atul Butte, MD, PhD, associate professor of systems medicine in pediatrics.
In a quiet basement room on the medical center campus, J.C. Jaco, 17, of Eastside College Preparatory in East Palo Alto, examines a 3D model of the human knee on his computer screen. He highlights the ligaments, bones and blood vessels with bright colors and rotates the model to examine how the pieces all work together.
As an intern in the Digital Anatomy summer program, Jaco combines his computer work with another project in a different department; in his case, the Athletic Department. “I am researching ACL tears,” said Jaco. “We can simulate knee movements through these computer programs and then show athletes ways to prevent injuries.”
“I’ve never had as much hands-on experience,” said Sarah Marks, 25, who attends San Jose State University and San Jose City College, of the Health Careers Opportunity Program [HCOP]. Over their six weeks on campus, Stanford’s HCOP students attend cell biology lectures and anatomy labs, review medical literature, and shadow physicians in Stanford’s hospitals and clinics. They also work with mentors to figure out the best strategies for getting into medical school and even practice for the MCAT.
Previously: Stanford summer research intern named finalist in national science competition, A look at the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program and A prescription for improving science education
Photo by Susan L. Young