As reported by the Valley Press, August 4, 2011.

Students Present Findings from Summer Biomedical Research Program

By Jennifer Senofonte

On July 29, Greater Hartford area students completed the UConn Health Center’s 16th annual Health Career Opportunity Programs which introduced young minds to the world of biomedical research and education by giving them a six-week summer snapshot of the field.

High school, pre-college and college students applied for HCOP and its competitive summer enrichment programs.

“I want to be a biomedical engineer,” said Farmington High School senior Julian Rose who participated in the High School Student Research Apprentice Program.

Rose, along with fellow program students, gave their final presentation in the Keller Auditorium on commencement day. He will be a senior at FHS this fall.

“I was hoping to get a taste of the field,” he added, which he also concluded that he certainly did.

Recent West Hartford Hall High School graduate Curt Hanenbaum also gave his research presentation which was based on six weeks in the Pre-College Research Program.

“I did the program because last year, the high school program was such a great experience and I wanted to get some more research in,” Hanenbaum explained.

This was his second summer with the HCOP and he will continue pursuing biology and biophysics at UConn for college this fall.

“It helped me with my lab techniques,” he said, regarding the last two summers spent with UConn doctors and graduate student mentors who provide assistance to the young scholars.

Catherine Skeggs graduated from Avon High School in the fall and also attended the Pre-College Research Program for the last six weeks. She, like Hanenbaum, completed the High School Student Research Apprentice Program last summer as well because of her interest in the field.

“I did research last year with the high school program and really enjoyed that. It exposed me to the scientific field of research and medicine,” Skeggs said after her presentation. She will be attending UConn this fall to be a biomedical engineer.

She said that living on campus for six weeks this summer helped her prepare for college and the dorm lifestyle she will experience at UConn.

The High School Student Research Apprentice Program was for 11th and 12th graders interested in medicine, dental or biomedical research. The students gained research experience in clinical laboratories at the UConn Health Center or Central Connecticut State University but did not live on campus like the Pre-College Research Program students.

The pre-college program was for pre-freshmen who will be attending UConn in the fall. It was also a six week program at the Storrs campus that focused on enhancing the preparation of high school seniors for college through research experience in laboratories.

“We believe it is a wonderful pipeline for students who are thinking about studying in the medical field,” HCOP Director Dr. Marja Hurley said. “It’s also a great opportunity for us to recruit.”

HCOP is an extended program for middle school, high school, college, dental and medical research students that gives these students exposure to the medical research field through hands-on work in laboratories alongside doctors and other students.

The programs are part of the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative, which is in response to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Project 3000 by 2000, an initiative to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in the health professions.

Together, the UConn Health Center, Hartford School District, CCSU, UConn and Wesleyan University have developed the Aetna HPPI.