From Med High in South TX to the research hub of North TX

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Med High
The Med High students listen to the director of the Gross Anatomy Lab at Texas A&M Health Science Center as he explains the tools and equipment they use during autopsies

The rgVision team recently brought some high school students on as interns. Andrew Nieto, a senior with an interest in medical research, was selected into South Texas High School for Health Professions (Med High)’s MD Anderson Summer Program. The program takes the top quarter of Med High’s  junior class on a four day observation into the labs and departments of MD Anderson Cancer Research facilities and the Texas A&M Health Science Center at College Station. Nieto tells us about this opportunity to observe what goes into research and medicine at the university level:

 

research facility
Med High students walking into the Texas A&M Department of Biomedical Engineering.

 Our first stop was in Bastrop, Texas where we toured the Michael E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research. The facility is a division of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where biomedical research works to eliminate cancer through animal models. We had the opportunity to observe Chimpanzees, Squirrel monkeys and Owl monkeys. The Keeling Center’s concern with handling primates is quality care. They built housing facilities that best suited the needs of the primates; whether it be individual cages with man-made waterfalls as a white noise for the easily-stressed Owl monkeys, or large outdoor pens with jungle gyms for the Chimpanzees. The overall tour reflected on the strenuous work that involves animal research, and how it greatly benefits the advancement of medicine.

After the Keeling Center we traveled to the Science Park, another division of MD Anderson located in Smithville, Texas. Here we met with Professor Mark T. Bedford and Professor Jianjun Shen who conduct research in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. They presented us with their current research, providing what new genetic advancements were taking place. Although there is no exact cure for cancer, their work involves slowing down cancer and increasing a person’s lifespan. We had the opportunity to observe one of the few DNA sequencing machines in Texas, a device researchers use to study a person’s DNA; their goal is to find the exact location where mutation occurs in their DNA.

practicing research methods
Ms. Remya Prakash practicing on the laparoscopic box while watching the live screen footage.
Observing research methods in practice
(From left-to-right) Ms.Kelsey David, Remya Prakash, and Amethyst Noval observing Ms. Prakash as she tries the equipment for her first time.

The Health Science Center at Texas A&M was an all day event that presented hands-on lab experiments and activities taking place across campus. We heard a lecture about potential uses for moldable plastics in biomedical engineering, and performed an imitation laparoscopic surgery with tootsie rolls and rubber bands. At one point during our activities, we had a lecture with Professor Fuchs-Young and her team of fellow doctors who answered our questions as to what life presents to somebody going through medical school. The stories that the board presented assured me and my fellow classmates that there is nothing to fear when it comes to achieving your goals. My favorite part has to be the tour of their gross anatomy lab. There, we observed human brains that had been affected by alzheimer’s and dementia and viewed sections of a human body that had been preserved in plastic molds. Overall, touring the Health Science Center was the highlight of the trip.

 

I would like to thank the professors, directors, and teachers who helped make this trip possible. As a student in a high school that aims toward the medical professions, it was a great opportunity to see the laboratory facilities and quality of research that contribute toward the advancement of medicine and health care. In the future I look forward to one day becoming someone involved with the advancement of biomedical engineering, working to create a device that would better the people of the world.

 

High school students practice CPR
Students reviewed what they had been taught over their years at Med High, impressing the instructor from Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Visit their website to learn more about the MD Anderson Summer Program.