The BREP Program conducted its 3rd Biomedical Summer Internship program for high school students on June 7-11, 2010. As in previous years, the Summer Internship was held at the UPR Medical Sciences Campus. Twenty four students from 12 high schools across the Island participated in the different activities.
This year's agenda included lectures in topics relevant to biomedical research such as laboratory safety procedures, use of animal models in research, and the protection of human subjects participating in clinical studies. During the internship the students visited research facilities and individual laboratories conducting both basic and clinical investigations, including the Flow Cytometry Facility, the Clinical Proteomics Core Facility, the Electron Microscopy Unit, the Molecular Genetics Laboratories, the Laboratory of Fear Learning, the Women's HIV clinic, and the Oral Health Research Laboratory. In addition, the students performed hands-on laboratory activities in which they practiced clinical examinations using the "virtual patient", analyzed forensic evidence (biological, chemical, physical, etc) in solving an invented case; learned how to monitor blood glucose levels, and the importance of this measurement in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
The students also had the unique opportunity of meeting and conversing with researchers working in the areas of HIV, neurosciences, proteomics, diabetes, molecular genetics, etc. In addition, students who have previous participated in the BREP program shared with the new students their experiences and how the program facilitated their participate in other K-12 research initiatives within and outside Puerto Rico.
All students received copies of the comic book series: The BioMed Battle Team, which depicts adventures related to research activities associated with illnesses that disproportionately affect the Puerto Rican population such as diabetes, heart diseases, and HIV-AIDS. The readings of the comic books were complemented by scientific conferences in each of these topics.
The Biomedical Summer Internship concluded with a special ceremony in which students received a Certificate of Acknowledgement for their successful participation in the different activities. This was followed by a Pizza Party in which students, parents, researchers, laboratory technicians, and BREP Staff shared impressions and experiences.
The BREP Program appreciates the valuable and enthusiastic assistance of the investigators and technical specialists at the Medical Sciences Campus. By sharing their experiences and scientific knowledge they stimulated, without any doubt, the interest of many students in a biomedical career. We also acknowledge the support of the RCMI Program which was instrumental for exposing the students to the state-of-the-art facilities used in basic and clinical research, as well as for documenting the activities for dissemination on the web.