ASH to host annual High School Student Symposium at New Orleans Marriott

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will host its annual High School Student Symposium at the New Orleans Marriott on Thursday, December 3, at 8:00 a.m. CST. The symposium, which encourages an interest in hematology, the biological sciences, and medical research, is held in conjunction with the Society's 51st Annual Meeting. This year, students will have the opportunity to explore research on sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that distorts the shape of red blood cells, causing severe pain and other health problems in patients who have the disease.

"Through this program, we hope to show students how exciting and rewarding a career in biomedical research - and hematology in particular - really is," said Scott D. Gitlin, MD, Chair of ASH's Committee on Training Programs, which organized the event. "By stimulating an interest in the field, we hope to encourage a number of talented young scholars to the enter the specialty and be the next generation of hematologists to make important contributions to research and patient care."

Students from two local high schools - Eleanor McMain Secondary School and McDonogh 35 Senior High School - will participate in a series of activities related to sickle cell disease and biomedical research during the half-day symposium. After a kick-off breakfast, two local physicians from Tulane University School of Medicine and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will give presentations. Charles Scher, MD, will give a lecture on the diagnosis and clinical manifestations of sickle cell disease followed by Renee V. Gardner, MD, who will discuss treatment options. Students will record data related to the presentations that teachers will later use to facilitate classroom discussions. In addition, small breakout sessions will provide the students with hands-on demonstrations that illustrate scientific techniques related to sickle cell disease and biomedical research.

In addition, ASH will sponsor a poster presentation contest for symposium participants. Students, in teams, can conduct research on sickle cell disease and present their findings. ASH symposium speakers and volunteers will judge the posters, awarding the top three groups with prizes of $1,500, $1,000, and $750 to be provided to the winning teams' science departments.

In another effort targeted to high school students, ASH and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education, and media company, have launched "Explore the Mystery of Blood," a dynamic science curriculum designed to spark interest in the fields of science and medicine, in addition to exposing students to exciting career opportunities in hematology. It includes lesson plans built on themes from the hematology documentary "Blood Detectives" and information from www.BloodTheVitalConnection.org, a Web site designed to educate the public about the importance of healthy blood. The curriculum is being distributed to 50,000 high school science teachers and science club advisors nationwide, reaching more than 4 million students. It will also be available for download at www.Scholastic.com/hematology.

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