By Ana Scuric
As Kevin Adler ’13 walks into a lab at the University of Southern California’s Eli and Edythe Blythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research, he grabs his lab coat and prepares a water bath for the media he will work with that day.
Adler spent eight weeks working with aditose derived stem cells as a part of the USC Early Investigator High School summer program in stem cell research.
Sophie McAllister ’13 and Ashley Wu ’13 also participated in the program. Wu worked in a lab focusing on bone marrow stem cells, while McAllister worked in a lab that focused on heart regeneration in embryonic and newborn mice.
The program was started this year for students to “experience hands-on lab research in the biomedical sciences and to encourage them to pursue science after high school,” according to USC’s newspaper the Daily Trojan.
The program accepted applications from nominated students from Marlborough School and the Lifeline Education Charter School. The program was designed so that the first week would be spent learning basic lab skills, and the other seven hard at work in the lab.
Wu worked in the Gregor Adams lab reading scientific papers and growing human cell lines in cell culture.
“It really helped seeing what it was like to work in a lab,” Wu said.
“It was a really incredible opportunity, plus I had a desire to go into a more biology related field,” Wu said. “I don’t think you could find such a great opportunity elsewhere.”
McAllister’s project involved observing tissue-scarring and comparing levels of proteins between samples in the neonatal hearts of newborn mice. To make these observations, she ran several tests including Quantitative PCRs in addition to working on presentations and papers for the program.
McAllister, like Adler and Wu, applied to get a good understanding of what it is like to work in a laboratory setting in addition to the opportunity to work with stem cells.
“Stem cells and regenerative medicine could have tremendous benefits for a variety of diseases and the people at USC are really at the forefront of this developing field,” she said.
Adler’s work involved growing, deriving and differentiating stem cells.
“I learned that lab work is probably not what I want to do with my life but it was a great experience and I’m so glad it did it,” Adler said.
“I definitely grew in my understanding of careers in science from this experience,” McAllister said. “In particular, I appreciated the panel of doctors, researchers and grad students that we got to question about what paths we could take in college.”