Tuesday, August 14, 2012

High school students gain experience, get excited about stem cell research

High school student Brandon Hernandez discusses his summer research at the Creativity Awards meeting
One of the things that’s fun about working at CIRM is knowing that we are making a real difference in people’s lives. We got to see evidence of that yesterday when a group of 63 high school students and their mentors from throughout California got together on Stanford campus to share the results of their summer research as part of our Creativity Awards program. (We blogged about the program here.)

This program supports high school students from all socioeconomic backgrounds doing research projects in stem cell labs. The goal is to foster an interest in stem cell biology in the state’s most promising young people.

And promising they were. These students had more poise while giving talks and discussing their research than many graduate students I’ve known—and I heard a few explaining their research in multiple languages. What could be more representative of California’s diversity and high tech prowess than young people speaking in multiple languages about stem cell research discoveries?

Among the many impressive students I met was Brandon Hernandez, who has been doing research at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. The San Diego Union Tribune recently profiled Hernandez. He has been on his own since he was 13, and is now giving talks about medical research and has plans to attend UC Berkeley.

Students like Hernandez and all the other bright young people at the meeting yesterday make me hopeful for our state’s future. These kids are going places.

Irv Weissman, who directs Stanford's stem cell institute, spoke to the students about how he started his career in stem cell research, and about the promise of the field.


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