Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) faculty introduced 30 local high school students to basic anatomy, molecular biology, nanotechnology and more during the Bioengineering and Biomedical Sciences Summer Program. The students spent seven full days using various medical instruments such as micro pipettes to extract DNA from food samples. They also learned different aspects of the human body like the cardiovascular system to discover their level of interest in the medical field.
A Busy Daily Schedule
“Allowing students to have hands-on, real life experiences with these kinds of experiments using molecular biology and biotechnology tools for the first time can open the door to a lot of possibilities for future careers that might not otherwise have been considered,” said Kara Sawarynski, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences.
Students began each day with sessions taught by OUWB faculty, with one of the mornings involving the on-site staff at the medical imaging center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The program’s design allowed students to ask questions about form and function, common diseases and illnesses along with many opportunities to participate in demonstrations. Each day, following lunch, they interacted with biomedical science faculty from the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences (SECS), where they taught material that linked back to medical applications. Class topics included body mechanics, foods and energy content and fluid mechanics.
The students’ appreciation and strong interest in biomedical sciences was evident as they enthusiastically tackled their assignments, studied the bones of a skeleton in the anatomy lab and asked meaningful questions of their instructors.
Habeeb Al-Shohatee discusses the function of the spinal
column with his summer program classmates and Namrata Kulkarni,
OUWB medical student.
A Special Opportunity
“I am very interested in the field of medicine because I like helping people,” said Habeeb Al-Shohatee. “I learned some terms that I didn’t know before and I liked learning about the skeletal muscles.”
According to some students, the material was mind-blowing.
“During the lesson on the entire abdominal cavity, I actually held a human heart in my hand,” exclaimed Yousif Esho. “This program gives me a taste of what biology is all about so I can see if I want to go into that field.”
For Utica High School student Joseph Imbrunone, participating in the program is helping him determine whether or not he wants to pursue a career in pediatric endocrinology.
“I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3, and as I get older, I feel obligated to help others who have juvenile diabetes. This camp experience is helping me get closer to understanding that goal. I want to help children and show them how to keep healthy,” said Imbrunone.
Jenan Rizk (center) and her summer program classmates
participate in a human anatomy study with Dan Schlegel,
lab manager of the OUWB anatomy lab.
Eleventh grader Jenan Rizk thinks she wants to be an ophthalmologist. She acknowledged that she may change her mind now based on her new insider’s view of the medical field. Adam Kemp wants to pursue research and production of medical devices. Avarinth Ravithas has a goal to be a specialist working with kids.
“We are happy to participate in the high school summer program as it is always really fun to be able to expose students to our world,” said Sawarynski.
Students also teamed up in groups of three to work on a final project for a poster presentation on the last day of the program. The topics ranged from performance enhancing drugs, embryonic stem cell research to answering the question of whether or not drinking water should continue to be fluoridated.
“For the final projects, students are researching the scientific issue and thinking about the people who are affected by the issue, “ said Jennifer Eastwood, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences.
While the camp gives the teens a mere glimpse of the field of medicine, the experience is bound to make a lasting impression and perhaps one day lead to an OUWB School of Medicine education.