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Huntington Science Research Students Visit CSH Lab

A contingent of seven Huntington High School science research students visited Cold Spring Harbor Labs one recent weekend. The group participated in a crash course on personal genomes, including a lecture by one of three keynote speakers, David Valle of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The students included Alexandra Mandriota, Victor Tellez, Jacob Roday, Bobby Scott, Hector Rubio, James Sosa, and Matthew Angeliadis. The teenagers are enrolled in classes taught by Huntington science teachers Lori Kenny and Craig McKee.

During his lecture, Dr. Valle discussed his background and research. The talk proved enlightening for the Huntington students, who thoroughly enjoyed participating in the three-hour seminar at the lab. The group later toured the lab's grounds and facilities and was presented with backpacks, notebooks and journals to take home and utilize in their studies.

Seminar topics included personal genomics, personal cancer genomics, rare diseases, ethics: return of results, medically actionable genomics and clinical implementation of personal genomics.

This marked the fourth such conference hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Lab. "The first three conferences have spanned a significant milestone in human genetics - the appearance of individual, or personal, human genomes, with more than 1,000 full human genomes now sequenced," according to the CSH website. "Ultra high throughput sequencing strategies have now been used to study more individual genomes – and yet few scientists, and even fewer physicians and clinical geneticists are familiar with the implications of these new data. This meeting will address the issues of individual genomes being part of research and routine clinical practice within the next few years."

Researchers also participated in poster and platform presentations. This allowed for a turning of the tables, so to speak. At high school science competitions, Huntington students must defend their findings before a team of judges. At the Cold Spring Harbor Lab, it was these same Huntington students who were able to question professional researchers.

As the teenagers walked out of the lab they commented to each about the experience, expressing the thought that they knew now what steps they need to take on the path to their academic goals.

(Amber Lindner, secretary of the high school science club contributed to this story.)

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