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New WCM-Q program ‘Science for Curious Minds’ inspires high school students

High school students spent a week gaining research skills at WCM-Q on the college’s new ‘Science for Curious Minds’ program.
High school students spent a week gaining research skills at WCM-Q on the college’s new ‘Science for Curious Minds’ program.

A new training program launched by Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) brought 20 high school students to the college to learn a wide range of biomedical research skills and explore careers in science and medicine.

The students - all Qatari nationals or long-term 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 ‘Science for Curious Minds’ program the students gave presentations detailing the skills and knowledge they had learned during their week at WCM-Q.

The program is aimed at high school students aged 15 and above and is designed to kindle their interest in science by showing them how biomedical research is conducted at a world-class research institute and giving them the chance to gain hands-on experience in the lab. During the program, participating students are encouraged to ask questions freely to help them understand how researchers work and how the discoveries they make are implemented in the real world.

Grade 11 student Almayasa Ashkanani, 15, of Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, said: “The program has been really great, especially getting to meet the professors, who are so knowledgeable, and doing practical work in the lab, which is something I absolutely love. Chemistry and biology are my favourite subjects at school, and I hope to be able to study medicine and become a doctor, so this program has been perfect for me. It has also been great to be around like-minded students who also have a love of science and medicine.”

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

Dr. Khaled Machaca, senior associate dean for research, innovations, and commercialization, said: “This new program gives us a great vehicle for showing high school students how exciting and rewarding a career in biomedical research can be. We were extremely pleased with the levels of energy, enthusiasm and engagement the students showed and hope that many of them will choose to pursue careers in biomedical research in support of Qatar’s ongoing mission to develop a thriving R&D sector in the country.”