Teens learn about stem cell research

June 27, 2008 7:05:58 PM PDT
Stem cell research is so new, it's not even something many high school students give as a possible career. But that may change because of a special program this week.

They're only 16 or 17 years old, and they're just beginning to think about careers.

"Before I wasn't really sure about what I wanted to do. This program is showing me all different things I could do," said junior Victoria Louie.

The Gladstone Institutes, a research center run by UCSF, has opened its labs to 150 high school students from across the country.

Eighty out of the 300 scientists are leading them through real experiments to show them what they do.

Kathy Ivey is a stem cell researcher.

"Sometimes I feel like we might talk over their heads, but then they come back with those questions that sort of blow us away, and they're obviously absorbing a lot of it and getting excited about it at the same, and that's what we want to see," said Ivey, Ph.D.

Sarah Vizel wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, but after hearing about the HIV/AIDS research done at the institute and learning about the need for health care in Africa, she may change her mind.

"I might be thinking about doing charity work or maybe working with UNICEF and doing Doctors Without Borders and really looking at the whole picture, not just specializing for the people who can afford everything," said Vizel.

High school senior Ben Martinez is a success story. He was part of the program last year, but was hired to be a Gladstone intern this summer.

"I've been doing a lot of the same procedures that scientists of higher level education would do," said Martinez.

"Exposing them to this environment, exposing them to mentors, exposing them to the possibility that this could be their future is a huge difference," said Gladstone Institute Vice President Daniel Oshiro.

Some of these students eventually made decide not to go into science, but those that do might find themselves working some day at the Gladstone Institutes.


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