Slice of Science: Gladstone Institute Gives Students a Career Taste

As promised, the full video highlights of the Gladstone Institutes' July 12, 2007, science sampler for high school students are now available below. The Gladstone has made a cultural virtue of outreach, believing that the public understanding of science — as well as our future supply of scientists — requires special attention. Public support for science, built on a foundation of science literacy, is a critical part of that equation as well.

In the months ahead, we hope to expand our Science Café video offerings with this literacy in mind. We also plan to deploy an index of the various topics, technologies, diseases and conditions, and scientists that have become part of the Science Café network.

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Remember, too, that we have begun to evaluate websites, looking to award our $750 prize in mid-September. The contest, judged by representatives of the UCSF Department of Public Affairs, will evaluate research center, scientific institute (or program) and laboratory websites on the domain in four major areas:

If there are sites you don't want us to overlook, please contact us via the Science Café email.


Podcast transcript

Other video formats

## Video Transcript

Jeff Miller: Hello, I’m Jeff Miller and welcome to Science Café. Today we’re at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes, which are just across the street from UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. Why are we here? Well, you might ask the same question of the 450 high school students—part of the National Student Leadership Conference—who’ve come to learn how Gladstone scientists are working to solve the problems of human disease.

Let’s go inside and check it out.

Robert W. Mahley, MD, PhD, President, J. David Gladstone Institutes: As you go through the day, you’re going to learn that the Gladstone doctors and scientists focus on three of the most important diseases facing humankind today. One of those is heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in almost all countries today around the world.

A second area where our investigators spend considerable effort in science is in AIDS and the HIV epidemic. There are now more than 25 million people who have died from AIDS and we are not close to stemming this epidemic around the world.

The third area of research that you’ll hear about today is Alzheimer’s Disease and other brain disorders. Alzheimer’s is one of the fastest growing diseases that robs us of our memories that is going on at present day.

…But we’re very pleased to have this group here again today to consider the possibility of a career in science, in medicine, in healthcare. Personally, I’ve been involved in medicine and science now for almost 40 years and I can tell you today is as exciting a day as when I began my career. I can’t imagine a more exciting and more rewarding career and I challenge you to consider this for your own lives.

Miller (voiceover): Students agreed that science was both a worthy cause and a fulfilling career when they weren’t hurrying around to their next session.

Miller (to a student): Do you consider yourself a future scientist?

Student 1: I do consider myself a future scientist. I’m majoring in human biology, so I hope to pursue a career in the medicine field.

Miller (to another student): Are you considering a scientific career?

Student 2: Oh, yeah.

Miller: Any particular field?

Student 2: I want to go into neurology.

Miller: Why neurology?

Student 2: Really, two reasons: I’m interested in how the brain functions, and it’s also a personal reason. I’ve had family members who’ve had brain tumors and have passed away from that.

Miller (to another student): Are you interested in a scientific career?

Student 3: Oh yeah, definitely.

Miller: What kind?

Student 3: Probably medicine, infectious diseases.

Miller: You want to work at a place like the Gladstone someday, or UCSF?

Student 3: Yeah. Yeah, I want to do a lot of research.

Miller (voiceover): For some students, though, future careers were a little more uncertain, although science was definitely in the mix.

Miller (to another student): Where are you from?

Student 4: Portland, Oregon.

Miller: So do you consider yourself a future scientist?

Student 4: Maybe. I don’t know yet.

Miller: Is there anything particular you’ve learned about science today that might have changed your mind or made you more interested in the field?

Student 4: Well, I think the research is really interesting, so yeah.

Miller (to another student): So do you see yourself working at a place like the Gladstone at some point in the future?

Student 5: I would love to work in a place like this, but I’m also interested in medicine, so I want to be able to do clinical and research at the same time.

Miller: So be like an MD/PhD-type person?

Student 5: I’m thinking about it. I can’t say for certain, but I’m still thinking about it.

Miller: Do you know how long that takes, to get an MD/PhD?

Student 5 (laughing): A long time, from what my friend told me.

Miller: I think it can take as long as 13 years, sometimes.

Student 5: Hmmm… (laughing) now that’s going to steer me away from it.

Miller (voiceover): To help inspire these would-be future scientists, Gladstone Institute researchers narrated tales from the front lines of virology, neurology and cardiology. Subject areas included Alzheimer’s Disease, stem cells and HIV/AIDS.

Warner Greene, MD, PhD, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology: So every day 16,000 people become infected with this virus. Every day 10,000 people die as a result of AIDS. 90 percent of these infections are occurring in the developing world, areas of the world that are least able to deal with the onslaught of this virus. Over half of the infections are occurring in young adults, individuals your age, between 15 and 25 years old. And unfortunately only 1 in 10 people who are infected know that they are infected and as such they’re at greater risk to spread the virus to other individuals. Tragically, 1600 children are infected every day, largely as a result of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, and in fact we now have ready approaches for stopping that vertical transmission of the virus, yet these therapies are not widely available in the parts of the world where the virus is spreading most rapidly. And then a not-often appreciated consequence of this global pandemic is the fact that more than 14 million children have been orphaned due to the death of one or both of their parents by HIV/AIDS.

Miller (voiceover): One of the highlights of Jennifer Ng’s stem cell talk was a short video of beating heart cells, glowing green, which were originally derived from embryonic stem cells. Real beating hearts, this time from chick embryos, were also the topic of the day at the animal models of heart development demonstration, which was just one of ten hands-on demonstrations on everything from experimental methods for studying Parkinson’s Disease, to DNA microarrays.

Did any of it sink in? Were brain fires stoked?

Student 1 (to Miller): Well, actually, my last year I did a paper in stem cells, and I’m just learning that there’s not a sufficient amount of government funding for the arena right now, handicapping the scientists. So developments really can’t be made without sufficient lines of stem cells or the government funding.

Student 6 (to Miller): In one of the lectures I learned about AIDS and HIV, and then Alzheimer’s, and over here they had a bunch of different embryos and new technology to show how, almost like an MRI, to take 400 photos from different angles and then it can create a 3D image of the heart. And then you can take a normal heart and look at it and then an abnormal heart and find what’s wrong with it without opening the embryo.

Student 5 (to Miller): I just thought it was interesting, because my research is in Parkinson’s Disease and how it’s related with Alzheimer’s. Especially with lots of animal models that we’re doing it’s very similar.

Student 3 (to Miller): Oh, well I’ve learned a lot about how they use embryos of chicks and mice to research stem cells and how stem cells can be formed to create new cells, to create an organ like the heart.

Miller (to a group of three students): So you guys have seen a couple of sessions already. So what has been the most intriguing thing you’ve learned so far? Who wants to go first?


Student 7: I don’t know. Just being able to see what a medical career would be like and different options that you’d have.

Miller: Did you consider a scientific career before coming today?

Student 7: Yes, I’m actually thinking of being a pediatrician.

Miller (to second student in group): And how about you?

Student 8: I like going to labs, to get to see what they’re experimenting on and the future technology…

Miller: So had you considered a scientific career before today?

Student 8: Yes, I want to be an oncologist.

Miller (to third student in group): And how about you?

Student 9: I think my favorite thing was just seeing all the advancements that are going on here in the lab and in other parts of the country, and seeing how humans are helping other humans…

Miller: Have you been to the stem cell session yet?

Student 8: Yes.

Miller: OK. Can you tell me what a stem cell is?

Student 7: It’s a cell that divides and, I’m forgetting something…

Student 8: It’s found in the blastocytes…cysts.

Student 9: It’s pluripotent, so it can divide into any other kind of cell.

Miller: Excellent. You guys have listened well. Thank you so much.

This is Jeff Miller, for UCSF’s Science Café.