As CTSI Mentors Look On, High School Students Showcase Research

Eighteen Long Beach Polytechnic High School students enrolled in a CTSI-supported biomedical research course showcased their research at a symposium at Cedars-Sinai on Feb. 24. These science and math students, from the Long Beach Poly PACE magnet program for gifted students, are selected through an application process to participate in the research course each year.

The course provides preparatory instruction on a variety of research topics, including statistics, ethics and human subject safety and regulations. Students meet weekly with their assigned mentors to learn about research protocol in a hands-on environment. The course is designed to encourage young, aspiring scientists to consider careers in medical research.

Michelle Aberle, director of the PACE program, selects the students, serves as liaison to the medical centers, coordinates with mentors and helps students prepare their poster projects.

"The Long Beach Polytechnic Biomedical Research class is remarkably successful in its ability to open the eyes of highly motivated students to the possibilities for careers in science," Aberle said. "The students emerge with tools that prepare them to seek additional opportunities throughout their college years and beyond."

Students presented projects on many different topics, including "Evolution of Personal Microbiome" and "Comparing Noninvasive Measurements of Cardiac Output," and worked with mentors from University of California, Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai, and the Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Mary Sehl, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Medicine and Hematology-Oncology at UCLA, was one of the mentors who contributed to the students' research experience. Two of her students worked on a research project exploring stochastic modeling of stem cells.

"It was such a rewarding experience to work with bright and dedicated students. The students continually asked insightful questions throughout the course of the program and absorbed concepts quickly," Sehl said.
Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, MS, NCMP, associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and director of the Women's Hormone and Menopause Program at Cedars-Sinai, mentored two students who investigated endothelial function in women with microvascular disease. 

"The mentor program was a fun opportunity to teach smart, young high school students about translational medicine," Shufelt said. "They learned how to collect data, measure vascular function, run statistics and present the results in a presentation. These are all things typically learned in medical school and beyond."

Since 2000, more than 200 students have taken the biomedical research course and learned about a variety of medical disciplines.

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Anyone interested in mentoring students next year should contact:

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