aecomOne of the hallmarks of a Central education is the opportunity to participate in our one-of-a-kind Science Institute, an innovative program that immerses students in hands-on laboratory activities and guides them through a series of professional laboratory and medical research experiences. Through the Science Institute program, three rising juniors participated in clinical research lab internships over their summer vacation, and they consistently report educational and meaningful summers that reinforced and enhanced their knowledge and skills, while strengthening their values of persistence and lifelong learning. Thank you to Dr. Ruth Freeman for her work to help place our students in their research labs.

Working at Montefiore with Dr. Scott G. Chudnoff, Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics  and Gynecology and Women’s Health, and Co-Fellowship Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Yael Laks (‘18) analyzed data about various types of hysterectomies to determine which forms of the procedures yield optimal results. Yael particularly enjoyed scrubbing in on four different surgeries and spoke with nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, and the surgical technologist to gain a better understanding of the scope of the surgical process. Says Yael, “One of the highlights of this summer was using Dr. Chudnoff’s Surgical Simulator. It’s supposed to resemble an actual surgery and complications that might occur. I felt like a real surgeon doing actual laparoscopic surgeries as I tried it out.” Inspired by her summer experiences, Yael is now considering a future career in noninvasive surgery.

Leeba Sullivan (‘18) worked with  Dr. Allan Wolkoff, Herman Lopata Chair in Liver Disease Research Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases at AECOM. Leeba jumped onto an existing research project and helped Dr. Wolkoff’s lab technicians study the properties of various proteins. Leeba’s Science Institute background came in handy as she independently ran western blots and conducted procedures such as gel electrophoresis and sodium carbonate protein extraction. She also experienced the painstaking guesswork of scientific discovery as she and her fellow researchers needed to reset their experiments when unintended results arose. As Leeba acknowledged after one such reset that involved new protocols and new methods, the world of research is “definitely a bumpy road, often with lots of uncertainty, but if we make it all the way to the end, it is definitely rewarding…We don’t know the answers and we are constantly experimenting with new methods and procedures with the hopes that we will find out what works–and sometimes what doesn’t.” Leeba credits her success this past summer to her Central science education. From her biology class, she gained an awareness of the nature of proteins, while her chemistry class helped her understand dilutions of various acids and bases. In particular, she is grateful to the Science Institute Research Methodology course for exposing her to real laboratory work and for training her to use scientific research tools and to adhere to scientific methodology.

Hila Karol (‘18) studied with  Dr. Meredith Hawkins, AECOM Professor, Department of Medicine and Endocrinology, Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Medicine, Director Global Diabetes Institute. Hila studied insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes and hypoglycemia, and she notes that the Science Institute’s Research Methodology course aptly prepared her to perform procedures such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). We look forward to sharing in the progress of these students and welcome in the new crop of Science Institute sophomores, who will no doubt make their mark in the world of medical research as well.

Avigail Winokur (’18) interned at the end of this summer for Dr. Jill Crandall, professor of Medicine and Director of Diabetes Clinical trials at AECOM. Avigail reports, ” I feel as if I’ve gained a much greater understanding of diabetes as a whole and how to best manage it.”

Three of our rising seniors continued their scientific explorations this summer with independent research projects, which they presented at the Garcia Summer High School Honors Research Symposium among ninety of their peers. Sara Teitelman (‘17)  presented her solo research project, entitled “Transdermal Delivery of Curcumin Using Microemulsions as Vehicles and the Effect of Curcumin on Human Dermal Fibroblasts.” Sara’s exceptional lab work earned her the distinction of being one of three high school participants selected to present their work at a material science conference in Boston this November. Congratulations to Sara on this exciting achievement!

science2With her two partners, Aviva Landau (‘17) presented her chemical engineering project, “Utilizing Gold-Platinum Alloy Nanoparticles to Enhance the Performance of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell.” We salute Aviva for venturing outside the realm of familiarity to explore a field she had never before studied. Says Aviva, “I took a leap of faith and chose a project that does not encompass any biology at all. Last summer, I primarily dealt with cell work, so I decided I wanted to broaden my horizons a bit more and expose myself to something a bit different. I was excited to try something new!”

Also presenting at the symposium was Miriam Radinsky (‘17), whose project was titled, “The Effect of Fibronectin and P12 on Human Dermal Fibroblast Migration on PLA and PMMA Fibrillar Substrates.” Central alum and veteran Garcia presenter Bonnie Mendelson (‘16) was also in attendance, introducing the entire group of research projects dealing with Dental Pulp Derived Cells.

Mrs. Ruth Fried, Chair of the Science Department and Director of the Science Institute, enjoyed watching as our students presented their stellar work. Says Mrs. Fried: “I was filled with pride as I spoke to the professors, teachers, mentors, students, REU’s and parents, who all commended our students on their maturity and diligence–and what was for me the most heartwarming, their kindness and inclusiveness. I look forward to following my students’ research as they go on and compete in both national and international science research competitions.” We extend a special thank you to Dr. Rafailovich, Dr. Sokolow, Dr. Adriana Pinkas-Sarafova, and Mrs. Rebecca Isseroff for providing our students with this invaluable experience.


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