From left, Maggie Yeh, Sydney Locksley and her twin sister, Morgan Locksley, learn how to isolate DNA at the Diabetes Center.
It was hardly an appetizing activity prior to lunch, but one group of girls visiting UCSF during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day were awed by seeing and touching the damage done to healthy lungs by smoking cigarettes and crack cocaine.
The sobering lesson at a pathology laboratory was one stop on an enlightening journey that began at the UCSF Diabetes Center, where girls were welcomed by Director Jeffrey Bluestone. At the Diabetes Center, the girls visited a basic science laboratory, where they learned how to feed mouse cells, isolate DNA and view heart cells beating under a microscope.
Greg Szot, manager of the Islet Transplant Facility in the Diabetes Center, explained how basic science research with mice is now benefiting patients who have diabetes.
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The exciting part of my job is that we're actually now [treating] humans, actual patients, taking cells that produce insulin that we've isolated and we're transplanting them into diabetic patients," Szot said.
"And we're treating those patients with drugs that will prevent them from rejecting those cells or destroying those cells like they did the first time. Now we have a couple of patients that are doing quite well -- they're not completely cured -- but they don't require the amount of care and insulin checks, glucose checks that they did require previously. So that's the exciting part: we're going from a little mouse model to a bench top model and we're moving into patient care and hopefully trying to cure the disease."
About 360 boys and girls gathered at UCSF on April 28 to see health sciences professionals in action as part of the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, organized by the Center for Gender Equity.
Lessons on Lifestyle
After visiting the Diabetes Center at UCSF, the girls trekked to the pathology laboratory on the 10th floor of Health Sciences West, where Henry Sanchez, recently promoted to professor, gave girls an introductory lesson they won't soon forget.
The girls were shocked that the once-spongy, light flesh-colored lungs were transformed into a pale gray mass full of holes after years of smoking cigarettes caused emphysema. Some gasped when Sanchez showed lungs blackened by the constant inhalation of burning chemical compounds in crack cocaine that led to the demise of a 37-year-old addict.
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The moral of the story is, never smoke," Sanchez said. "You'll live a long, healthy life."
|Sydney Locksley, daughter of UCSF scientist Richard Locksley, holds up a lung damaged by emphysema in a pathology laboratory.
In his well-rehearsed speech, which Sanchez has delivered to hundreds of students of all ages as part of his public service, he exhibited several diseased organs, including a heart damaged by a junk food diet and a liver lost to too much alcohol.
Each time Sanchez presented a new specimen donated to science for teaching, he passed it around so the girls could get a closer look and even hold it in their gloved hands. The girls heard repeatedly that the wrong lifestyle choices were linked to most maladies, including a lung destroyed by cancer.
"Children often hear about these health conditions, but this provides them with a glimpse of how lifestyle choices can have an impact on their lives," Sanchez said. "When they get educated, their parents get educated and they all get a better understanding of what really happens when you smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol excessively."
"And they learn to do things to keep them safe, such as eating fruits and vegetables. Prevention is really the key. If we can stop children from smoking, then we can make a great impact on society, reduce health care costs and extend lives."
Sanchez's presentation was so intriguing that several girls were disappointed when it ended in time for a free lunch.
Separating Boys and Girls
Although UCSF initially based the program for girls on one created by the Ms. Foundation, the campus began offering the event to boys a couple of years ago after concluding that boys should not be excluded. Their inclusion was especially timely at UCSF as it - like universities across the country -- moved from providing a women's resource center to offering a Center for Gender Equity.
|Boys were among the 360 children who visited UCSF during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
The Diabetes Center at UCSF offered two separate sessions for girls and boys on April 28. In years past, when boys and girls were mixed, the boys dominated the session, according to event organizers.
But the practice of separating the girls from the boys, who were offered a 90-minute program designed to challenge gender stereotypes before engaging in health science activities, was criticized when some voiced concerns and complaints about unequal treatment.
Amy Levine, director of the Center for Gender Equity, explained the rationale behind the separate sessions.
"Early attempts to incorporate boys into programs with girls were unsuccessful, as the children mirrored the same behavior that they exhibit in the classroom," Levine said. "Boys demanded different kinds of attention and our volunteer program planners agreed that the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day experience of both boys and girls would be enhanced by providing separate programs that address their respective general experiences in society."
Source & video: Lisa Cisneros
UCSF Center for Gender Equity
Diabetes Center at UCSF