The City of Hope welcomed our third year of CIRM Creativity Students to our annual summer student academy. Eight students were chosen from the 323 high school applicants and placed into the various labs working with stem cells. Students were able to choose from twelve basic science and clinical departments.
The CIRM Creativity program at City of Hope is designed to promote stem cell focused scientific research and encourage student’s innate creativity. Over a ten week period, students work in active biomedical research laboratories interacting and learning from their PIs, mentors, and various staff. Through this process, they are given the hands on training in a laboratory and are able to learn the importance of discipline and collaboration in the field of research. Ideally, each student will work with their mentors to create an independent research project that will be presented to their peers and other scientist at the end of the ten week period.
Our students attend various scientific and career development programs as an integral part of the program. We organize weekly seminars where active researchers and medical doctors are invited from throughout the country to speak about their field of science. Each student can choose to have lunch with one speaker where they have the opportunity to ask more detailed questions or seek career path advice in a small group setting. A sample of some of this year’s speakers and their topics include:
•Monika Polweski, a graduate student of the Irell and Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences and CIRM Scholar, presented her research on “System Xc-: Part of the Brain’s Armor”.
•Dr. Becky Tsai, CIRM scholar, Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research, presented “Genetic and Molecular Characteristics of hematopoietic stem cells in Therapy-Induced Myelodysplastic Syndrome”.
•Dr. Ravi Bhatia, Professor in the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantations, presented his laboratory’s research in a talk titled “Enhancing Cures for Leukemia by targeting Leukemia Stem Cells”.
•Dr. David DiGiusto, Research Professor of Virology and Director of the Laboratory for Cellular Medicine, engaged the students in his presentation titled “Ex-Vivo Engineering of Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells: Gene Therapy Towards a Cure for HIV”.
•Dr. Kate Sleeth, Graduate & Professional Studies Program Director, gave a detailed history of cancer research and how procedures and treatments have advanced since the very beginning.
Students also meet weekly where 3 individuals present their research project and answer questions from their peers and mentors laboratory personnel who also attend. This provides a broader perspective of the types of biomedical research being pursued at City of Hope. At the conclusion of the program each student must design and present at the annual Summer Academy poster session where distinguished guests, family, and faculty members can discuss their research.
The creative component of the CIRM Creativity program includes a series of workshops that promote different forms of creativity as well as scientific field trips around Los Angeles. The students attended four separate workshops. The first was a marketing workshop that explained the importance of target marketing and brand image perception created through effective advertising. The second workshop focused on public speaking and the importance of body language. The third workshop focused on professionalism and online etiquette, including email etiquette. The final workshop was in two sections; the first was on understanding one’s physical and mental abilities, and the second was on the Strong Interest Inventory which each of the students took.
Students also participated in the third music parody. The students chose to rewrite the lyrics of “Let it Go” from Disney’s hit movie, Frozen. The CIRM Creativity Students were excited to receive the Best Video Award at the statewide CIRM Creativity Day in San Francisco. The video can be seen at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vz3V44mM5I
Students attended three exhibits in the Downtown Los Angeles Area. They were the following:
• A private tour of the Universal Studios backlot learning about the science behind different movie effects and television shows.
• A private tour of the BODIES exhibit in Buena Park where they learnt about the plastination process created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and physiology of the human body.
• A trip to the California Science Center with group tours of the Endeavor and Pompeii exhibits.
With the proven success of our academy, we hope to continue providing students the opportunity to have hands on research in their high school and college career. Our CIRM Creativity program is making a positive impact on our students and the City of Hope.