Teens make mark on cancer research

Victoria teens spend summer onducting supervised cancer research inside the microbiology lab at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre

Seventeen-year-old Laticia Davis

Come September, when her classes resume at Victoria High, Laticia Davies won’t look at science the same after what she’s experienced this summer.

“It’s definitely going to be hard going back to labs,” said the 17 year old, who will soon start Grade 12.

The Victoria resident has been spending July and August conducting supervised cancer research inside the microbiology lab at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre near Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Davies, 17, is the first Victoria High student and 16-year-old Michelle Kim is the first from St. Andrews Regional High in Saanich selected to participate in the competitive high school summer internship research program, which continues until Aug. 26.

Joining them in the labs are Emma Thomson from Oak Bay High and Leah Kelley from Sooke’s Edward Milne community school. Their participation marks the first time four female students have been chosen to work in the labs together.

Since the program began in 2004, four students, who are either 16 years old or in Grade 11 at the time of their application, are selected each year to conduct cancer research inside the centre’s high-tech labs. They must pass exams at the end of the program to receive a $3,000 bursary.

The students provide invaluable help to researchers, who are studying how the immune system responds to cancer, as well as gain unique insight into a potential career path, said lab co-ordinator Siao Yong, a former researcher who mentored students.

“I would say this is the best science class (for them) because you gain experience in the lab and you’re learning beyond what you’re doing in the (high school) classroom,” said Yong. “Some of the material is for first- and second-year university students.”

Trying to explain the technical aspects of the research work to friends has been a work in progress for Davies.

“They ask what we do, but their eyes glaze over,” Davies said with a grin.

Still, thanks to the program she feels more passionate about becoming a neurologist one day, and enjoys the challenge of absorbing large amounts of information as her research work progresses over the summer.

“It’s like being immersed in a culture and having to learn the language,” Davies said.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Did you know?

Two students, who are either 16 or in Grade 11 at any secondary school on Vancouver Island, may be nominated for the internship program before March 1 every year. For details, contact your school’s science department or for an application, please visit www.bccrc.ca/dept/drc/hsp.

 

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