One summer, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics, invited a group of teens to help with her research in adolescent medicine.
The invitation came mostly as a favor to their parents, who wanted their kids to spend their summer vacation doing something constructive.
"They learned a lot, and I learned a lot just by being with them," Halpern-Felsher said. "I realized that it would be wonderful to formalize this experience."
Now, three years later, Halpern-Felsher directs an internship program, focused on giving largely underprivileged minority and women high school students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area an introduction to the world of science, medicine and health.
"These are really bright, talented students who just need someone to put them on the right track and encourage their enthusiasm about science," Halpern-Felsher said.
On Monday evening, UCSF welcomed 21 interns accepted into the 2006 UCSF Department of Pediatrics High School Summer Internship Program in Biomedical and Health Sciences at an opening reception in the Garden Room at Laurel Heights.
Focus on Research
During the eight-week program, interns are placed with a research group or laboratory, where they will have the opportunity to interact with graduate students, medical students, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants and faculty members.
|Pictured at the opening reception on Monday, are, from left, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, intern Joseph Rodrigues of Aragon High School in San Mateo, San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell and Segen Ketema, an intern from Berkeley High School.|
Each intern has been matched with a research mentor, who assigns him or her a project that must be completed before the end of the program. Most, but not all, of the mentors are members of the pediatrics department faculty.
"The mentors are terrific, spending a great deal of time teaching the interns about science, medicine and related fields," Halpern-Felsher said. "Many of the mentors even take the time to help the interns apply for college."
In addition to conducting a research project, the interns attend lectures on a variety of subjects like the treatment of human and animal subjects, patient confidentiality and the scientific method.
"They learn about anatomy, physiology, genetics, brain development, anthropology, radiology, etc. so they have a broader understanding of what it takes to be a scientist and work in the health professions," Halpern-Felsher said.
The program culminates with interns' presentations on their research. "The interns' research can include anything from working in the laboratory to clinical or behavioral research," Halpern-Felsher said.
Interns also receive help preparing college applications, such as writing essays and obtaining letters of recommendation.
The program is funded in part by a grant from the Genentech Foundation for Biomedical Sciences, the UCSF Department of Pediatrics, Mission High School of San Francisco, the UCSF office of Community and Governmental Relations, as well as several participating research laboratories and parent donations.
"The program provides an important service to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area," said Orlando Elizondo, associate director of Community Relations at UCSF. "Offering exposure to the health sciences not only helps the students, but also lays the foundation for training the next generation of health care providers."
Students also enjoy the internship. "Before this program, I'd never pictured myself working in a 'dry lab' with a PhD," one student wrote in a note to Halpern-Felsher. "Thank you for this wonderful learning experience."
For more information on the program, contact Bonnie Halpern-Felsher at 415/502-4967.
year's interns are: