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Organizations join together to offer Indianapolis students a unique science learning experience

INDIANAPOLIS -- (June 07, 2011) -- Five students from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will spend their summer vacations working alongside cancer physicians and researchers.  

The five high school students will participate in the Future Scientist Program, a partnership among IPS, Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, Indiana University Health and the American Cancer Society.  The program will help educate and foster interest in scientific studies.  The students will take part in the paid summer program under the mentorship of five IU Simon Cancer Center researchers.  

“Building a robust pipeline of future scientists is a critical step in advancing knowledge about cancer,” Kathleen Wilson, Childhood Cancers Program Manager at the American Cancer Society, said. “The ACS has always supported beginning investigators early in their careers as a way to sustain and grow the next generation of cancer researchers. This high school program is a logical extension of that important strategy.”

The eight-week program will include daily hours in a lab on the IU School of Medicine’s Indianapolis campus, weekly discussions, seminars and activities, campus field trips and a final presentation to mentors, parents and sponsoring organizations. Each participant indicated a preference for a research discipline focus and will work on one individual research project, which is different from all other projects. The participants are guided by faculty, staff and doctoral students who are also working in the given area.

“This is a unique opportunity for young people and shows their dedication to learning as they’ll be spending their summer vacations in labs with leading cancer researchers,” Patrick Loehrer, Sr., M.D., director of the IU Simon Cancer Center, said.  “Perhaps one day one of them will be treating cancer patients or will be working on new therapies for cancer patients.” 

Participants in this year’s Future Scientist Program are: 

  • Saundra Harden, junior, Arlington Community High School  
  • Maria Barragan, junior, Arsenal Technical High School  
  • Ebonie Parks, junior, Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School  
  • Kia Hill, sophomore, Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School  
  • Gabriella Figueora, senior, Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School

“The Future Scientist Program offers our students an unparalleled opportunity for one-on-one instruction,”  Susan Becker, IPS director of K-12 science instruction, said. “This experience will undoubtedly be life-changing. IPS is excited by and grateful for this unique program.” 

To participate, students submitted applications and completed an interview process with representatives from IU, ACS and IPS.  The students receive a $2,000 stipend for completing the eight-week program.