Student Participants in Health Disparities Research Initiative Present Scientific Papers after Summer Spent Working with Scientists at Loma Linda University Health

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The students, part of the Loma Linda University Health Disparities Research Summer Program, presented research in areas from treating traumatic brain injury to the links between hormones and cancer during the 13th annual Health Disparities Research Symposium 2013 hosted by the Loma Linda University Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine.

Fifty-four high school and college students on Wednesday (Aug. 7) presented scientific papers they completed following a summer spent working with scientists at Loma Linda University Health.

Fifty-four high school and college students from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds presented on Wednesday (Aug. 7) scientific papers they completed following a summer spent working with scientists and researchers from Loma Linda University Health.

The students, part of the Loma Linda University Health Disparities Research Summer Program, presented research in areas from treating traumatic brain injury to the links between hormones and cancer during the 13th annual Health Disparities Research Symposium 2013 hosted by the Loma Linda University Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine.

John Matsui, PhD, assistant dean, Biological Sciences and director of the Biology Scholars Program at UC Berkeley, gave the keynote address “Diversity and ‘Good Science’” at the symposium.

“I would describe this as a wonderful experience that allowed me to work in an actual laboratory alongside actual scientists,” said Karen Figueroa, 17, who just graduated from Ramona High School in Riverside and is planning to take up Biochemistry at UCLA in the fall.

Figueroa, whose parents are immigrants from Mexico, worked with researchers who studied the complications arising from Type 2 diabetes and ways that could decrease those complications.

“I was not just shadowing someone, but was actively involved in doing research,” said Figueroa, whose research duties included preparing cell cultures for study. “It was incredible that they would trust a 17-year-old to work on such important stuff. I had to be extremely careful and meticulous because some of those things were very expensive.”

The Loma Linda University Health Disparities Research Summer Program, now in its 13th year, is offered to promising students from disadvantaged communities by Loma Linda University Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine to encourage them to consider careers in medicine and biomedical research.

The research trainees are paired with academic mentors and engage in biomedical research conducted at various science, health and clinical departments at Loma Linda University and the Jerry L. Pettis VA Medical Center.

“We are encouraged to see these students be part of important and ground-breaking research,” said Dr. Marino De Leon, director of Loma Linda University Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine.

“We are especially encouraged to see how the research and academic skills learned by participating in our program are helping these students to move forward in their education and matriculating and graduating from doctoral and graduate programs in health sciences at Loma Linda University and nationwide. This is certainly bringing needed diversity to our biomedical workforce that is critical to do better science and serve the health needs of out local and global communities,” he said.

Photo Caption: Karen Figueroa, 17, a graduate of Ramona High School in Riverside, discusses research about Type 2 diabetes complications that she worked on during the summer with John Matsui, PhD, (center) assistant dean, Biological Sciences and director of the Biology Scholars Program at UC Berkeley, and Dr. Roger Hadley, (right), dean of Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Fifty-four high school and college students from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds presented on Wednesday (Aug. 7) scientific papers they completed following a summer spent working with scientists and researchers at Loma Linda University Health.

About Loma Linda University Health (LLUH)

Loma Linda University Health includes Loma Linda University's eight professional schools, Loma Linda University Medical Center's six hospitals and more than 900 faculty physicians located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Established in 1905, LLUH is a global leader in education, research and clinical care. It offers over 100 academic programs and provides quality health care to 40,000 inpatients and 1.5 million outpatients each year. A Seventh-day Adventist organization, LLUH is a faith-based health system with a mission "to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ."

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Herbert Atienza
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