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High schoolers get insights into medical careers

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Author Chris Casey | Publish Date November 8, 2011

Science Day, Nov. 8, 2011

Ayla Sjoberg, a senior at Eaglecrest High School in suburban Denver, said she is interested in a healthcare career because of her desire to help people. Her interest only intensified at the 2011 Medicine and Science seminar at Anschutz Medical Campus on Nov. 8.

The all-day seminar drew 350 high school students from across Colorado to hear Anschutz Medical Campus physician scientists and biomedical investigators talk about careers in medicine and research projects. The 24th annual seminar is part of the Colorado-Wyoming Junior Academy of Science program.

Sjoberg said she signed up for the seminar to get insight into biomedical engineering careers. She hopes to eventually conduct medical research and build artificial body parts.

“My family has always been in the medical field. It was very interesting to see them have such an impact on people’s lives,” Sjoberg said. “I like to be creative and put creative ideas together with science.”

Nathan Frantz, a senior at tiny Fleming High School (60 students) near the Colorado-Nebraska border, was attending his fourth Medicine and Science Seminar at Anschutz Medical Campus. He said this year’s lineup of speakers was the best he’d heard.

“This has been really intriguing to me. It’s offered me a lot of new insights,” Frantz said. “One of the speakers talked about asthma. I was interested in that because I have asthma.”

Barry Shur, PhD, dean of the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver, said the seminar imparted information about topics ranging from cancer treatments and immunology studies to what it takes to get into medical school.

“At the same time, it’s exposing the students to what is going on in biomedical research and clinical research,” he said. “I would have given my right arm to have gone to something like this in high school.”

He said the students, all of whom are high-achievers in their high schools, get to hear from world-class researchers who love the opportunity to share their knowledge.

“These kids are fortunate to have teachers and parents who get up at 3 or 4 in the morning and get them on a bus to drive across the state,” Shur said.

Lisbel Torres, a senior at Eaglecrest, said she plans to become a pediatrician. Math and science are her favorite subjects. During the morning session of the seminar, she was fascinated by the presentation by Doug Graham, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Immunology in the School of Medicine, about “Taking Aim at New Cancer Targets.”

Torres said one of her family members died recently after battling leukemia. The treatments her family knew about were the typical blood transfusion and chemotherapy methods.

“We really didn’t get to hear about all this new stuff they’ve come out with” to treat the disease, she said. “So it’s really interesting to me.”

PHOTO: Student participants in the Science and Medical Seminar included, from left: Ayla Sjoberg, Lisbel Torres and Nathan Frantz.