A new training programme, Science for Curious Minds, launched by Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) brought in 20 high school students to learn a range of biomedical research skills and explore careers in science and medicine.

The students – all Qatari nationals and long-term Qatar residents – began the week with a session on lab safety training, before taking classes in drug analysis and delivery, database search techniques, molecular biology, microbiology and epidemiological modelling. There were also classes on how to structure a scientific paper, the importance of acknowledging previous research, how to contribute to scholarship through research, and a chance to conduct practical experiments in the lab.

On the final day of the programme, the students gave presentations that detail the skills and knowledge they learned during their week.

Sparking interest, giving hands-on lab experience

The programme is aimed at high school students 15 years and older to spark their interest in science by showing them how biomedical research is conducted at a world-class research institute, giving them the chance to gain hands-on experience in the lab.

During the programme, participating students were encouraged to ask questions to help them understand how researchers work and how the discoveries they made are implemented in the real world.

Grade 11 student Almayasa Ashkanani of Michael E DeBakey High School for Health Professions said the programme has been really great, especially as they get to meet the professors and do practical work in the lab.

Chemistry and biology are my favourite subjects at school, and I hope to be able to study medicine and become a doctor. It (was) also great to be around like-minded students who also love science and medicine.

The WCM-Q faculty and staff who facilitated the classes during the week include Reya Saliba, Dr James Roach, Henriette Oosthuysen, Dr Yasser Majeed, Dr Susanne Awad and Dr Ghizlane Bendriss.

Senior Associate Dean for Research, Innovations and Commercialization Dr Khaled Machaca, said the new programme gave them a vehicle to show high school students how exciting and rewarding a career in biomedical research can be. He said they were extremely pleased with the levels of energy, enthusiasm and engagement the students showed and hope that many of them choose to pursue careers in biomedical research in support of Qatar’s ongoing mission to develop a thriving R&D sector in the country.

For more information about the programmes offered at WCM-Q, visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu

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