While their peers may have spent much of June and July sleeping late and lounging by the pool, for a dozen of Oklahoma’s most talented science students, the summer of 2007 meant donning lab coats and safety goggles in laboratories at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
The 12 students, chosen from approximately 100 applicants statewide, have spent eight weeks this summer at OMRF as Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars, working side-by-side with senior scientists. They conclude their work tomorrow, when they will make scientific presentations of their summer’s work to an audience that will include OMRF’s researchers and the executive director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, a national philanthropy that has supported research at OMRF.
Each scholar completed a project outlined by his or her mentor. For Michael Henderson of Dale, that meant using magnetic resonance imaging to track highly reactive oxygen molecules that have been implicated in illnesses ranging from cancer to brain disease.
“Every day I went to work, I felt like I was contributing to the fight against human disease,” said Henderson, who will attend Harvard University in the fall. “If we can use non-invasive technology to see what is happening in the body, we can detect disease and treat people before it’s too late.”
Other students tested DNA samples in search of the genetic roots of lupus, investigated the role of proteins in sealing wounds and studied whether the vitamin E derivatives hold promise for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
“These students represent Oklahoma’s brightest young scientific minds, yet for many of them, this was their first glimpse of true laboratory research,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “They performed complex experiments in real labs, and they excelled.”
“We hope this experience was an eye-opener,” said Prescott. “The future of our state’s health depends on our ability to train a new generation of medical researchers—and to keep them here in Oklahoma.”
The 2007 OMRF Fleming Scholars are:
David Auld, McAlester, Oklahoma Baptist University
Corey Coles, Oklahoma City, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Philip Cox, Oklahoma City, Southern Nazarene University
Rozalen Doolen, Ada, Ada High School
Cory Giles, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Christian University
Kryston Griffin, Newkirk, Northern Oklahoma College
Michael Henderson, Dale, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
Katie Maurer, Enid, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
Jackson Turner, Oklahoma City, Putnam City West High School
Amanda Waters, Altus, University of Oklahoma
Kevin Winters, Jones, University of Oklahoma
Jordan Wulf, Oklahoma City, Putnam City North High School
OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Chartered in 1946, its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.