Local high schoolers explore the research side of Mayo Clinic

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – It’s not often high school students are invited into the research side at Mayo Clinic, but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday.

Local 10th through 12th grade students traded backpacks for lab coats as part of the experience to learn more about bio-medical science and research careers.

The hope of Monday’s “Celebration of Research” open house was to get students excited about pursuing a career in the research side of healthcare.

It’s a unique opportunity for students to meet Mayo Clinic researchers and physicians to learn about their work.

“In each laboratory they’ll learn something different,” said Jim Maher, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Science Dean. “Some laboratories will show them an animal that they might study, others might show them a chemical or biological system they work on.”

Called the Celebration of Research, the event has been going on for 36 years. Each time, helping shape the young minds of area high schoolers.

“Each lab has their own focus that it is related in the long run to healthcare and those teams will explain their work to the students,” said Maher.

It includes demonstrations and even a little hands-on experience, which might help them figure if a career in these fields is something they might want to pursue.

“First hand information and knowledge and experience is what helps them to decide and I feel that’s a good opportunity,” said Junmei Cairns, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Research Scientist.

“I think the take home message we’re trying to send, is that behind health care is curiosity and the future of health care is about curious people studying thing they find interesting,” said Maher.

The tour included an oncology department lab where some students found inspiration.

“For sure, 100 percent,” said Century High School student Tariq Quassif. “This is a good starter experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

“If I come to this and learn something and it sparks my interest, then later when I go to college next year I’ll know that maybe research is the place for me,” said Century High School student Suad Mohamed.

The theme this year was “Fishing for Cures”, which is a reference about a Mayo research project using zebra fish in new treatments for hearing loss.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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