Where am I?
Ferring Scholars Explore New HorizonsSeven SLUH scholars spent much of their summer on the medical campus of Washington University performing in-depth, rigorous research through the Ferring Scholars Program. These budding researchers had the opportunity to work in the lab with some of the most highly skilled professionals in the country for five weeks, focusing on areas of critical importance in the field of medicine.
Michael R. DeBaun, MD, MPH, a 1978 SLUH graduate, started the Ferring Scholars Program in 2002 as a unique, hands-on opportunity for talented high school students interested in healthcare and biomedical research. The privately funded program pairs high school students, primarily from SLUH and Rosati-Kain, with mentors from Washington University and takes place over the course of three summers.
The following Jr. Billikens were engaged in the Ferring Scholars program this summer: David Ayeke ’13, Pieter Derdeyn ’12, Sam Erlinger ’12, Domick Freeman ’12, Jack Howe ‘12, Jesse Keipp ’12 and Christian Lukas ’12. (Five students from other schools also participated in the program.)
They began their summer experience with a one-week ACT course from math teacher Craig Hannick, then went to work for five intensive weeks at the Washington University Medical Campus. Each student had the opportunity to work on a project that was of interest to them, and they were each paired with a mentor to fulfill their project goals. At the end of their work, each student presented a scientific poster summarizing their project and findings.
“The students did exceptionally well,” says science teacher Mary Russo, who attended the poster presentation. She previously taught Accelerated Chemistry to five of the seven students. “Not only were the posters they created well done, but more notably they were well rehearsed in their methods and invested in the implications of their findings. It was a truly impressive display.”
[CLICK HERE](http://www.sluh.org/gallery/1/photos/students/50/) for photos from the presentation.
Following is a reflection from Sam Erlinger on his project and what it meant to him:
*I worked as a lab assistant in a Pediatric Infectious Disease lab. The lab, headed by Audrey Odom, MD, PhD, studies the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to gain more information about how the parasite functions in hopes of finding a way to stop the endemic that certain countries are facing. The parasite is studied by using expired blood from Children’s Hospital and infecting it. Different research is then performed.*
*The project I was assigned aimed to create a gene with a control mechanism that could be located within the parasite. The final hope was to be able to overexpress this gene and then study the consequences of doing so. I did my project by cutting, amplifying, isolating and piecing together DNA pieces, eventually into one plasmid (a circular piece of DNA) that could be transfected into the malaria parasite. Methods I used included: polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis, DNA gel extraction, recombination and transformation.*
*While working on my project, I also was able to experience the environment around me, which included making friends with my lab members, going to “Grand Rounds” and lectures, and working with highly skilled doctors. Every Thursday, the group of Ferring Scholars would meet for a discussion on a book or movie, including "How Doctors Think" and "The Last Lecture." Also, as a requirement of the program, I learned about making a scientific poster and then made my own at the end of the five weeks. I printed it on a 3’ by 4’ poster and presented it alongside the other scholars.*
*After my five weeks, during which I was paid by the hour and worked about 35-40 hours per week, my project was still not complete, so I decided to continue to work outside of the program, with no pay but significantly less hours, and I finished my project on my very last day. My lab is going to keep me posted on the findings and, assuming the program goes as expected, I will come back next summer to work in the same lab.*
*In my time in the lab I used many things I already learned while at SLUH. Chemistry and biology, the two science classes I have taken at SLUH, were extremely helpful. Specifically, chemistry helped me with keeping a lab notebook, understanding bonds and molecules, calculating molarity and concentrations, and doing scientific unit calculations. Biology helped by giving a basic understanding of the things I did and used such as polymerase chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, restriction digests and DNA in general. Beyond that, those classes helped me think scientifically and use the scientific method when I ran into problems.*
*I gained many new insights from this experience, though some are not specific to my project. I learned what a lab is, how it operates, and how its members interact. I also learned a lot from my mentor, Audrey Odom, about what it takes to head a lab and take care of clinical duties, a career path in which I’m very interested. In addition, I was able to tour the Genome Sequencing Center, one of the best in the country, and learned about technology that is truly amazing. Creating a scientific poster was a remarkable educational experience. The program directors and my mentor guided me along the way, and after a lot of work, I completed a poster summary of everything I had learned and was able to present and understand everything on it, which provided a good sense of accomplishment.*
*With everything I learned and took in from this experience, I am definitely interested in taking this career path and have began looking at college majors and undergraduate research programs that would provide even more experience if I decide this is what I want to do. Getting to the point of having your own lab at such a prestigious university definitely takes a lot of work and time in school, but this experience has me seriously considering doing something similar. Other than the sometimes long hours, I enjoyed everything about the experienced and gained a lot from it.*
- 12/06/2013 10:38:25 | Fields ’14 Takes POL for Second Year in a Row
- 12/06/2013 10:31:07 | Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Opens Garden
- 12/03/2013 16:08:42 | Iyer '14 to Publish Research
- 12/02/2013 13:33:54 | Robinson Triplets Hit Mark
- 11/25/2013 14:59:21 | Liberating Work
- 11/25/2013 11:14:18 | Godar ’14 Attends NJCL Meeting
- 11/19/2013 11:08:23 | Rising Young Star
- 11/18/2013 12:05:50 | Fathers, Sons Lend Helping Hand
- 11/18/2013 11:11:28 | SoccerBills Advance to Semifinals
- 11/14/2013 14:56:06 | Chinese Idol