Stem Cell Awareness Day introduces high school students to heros

Stem Cell Awareness Day on Wednesday brought scientists to close to 60 classrooms to deliver lectures on stem cell science and inspired events throughout the world, some of which are ongoing throughout October. (You can see a full list of events here.)

The Daily Pilot had a nice story on an event at University of California, Irvine, which brought more than 100 high school students into UCI’s Sue and Bill Gross Hall. CIRM contributed $27.2 million to the construction of the building. In addition to stem cell labs, the building houses equipment to help people with spinal cord injuries regain strength. The story quotes one of the students who attended:

“It’s nice to see our tax dollars go to something that actually helps people,” said Brittany Jackson, a Trabuco Hills High School senior. “There’s so much technology. You don’t realize there’s so much that goes into helping those less fortunate.”

The story goes on:

Standing between a computer monitor showing color dyed stem cells under a microscope and a refrigerator growing stem cells, Christina Tu talked about why she and researchers do what they do.

One scientist is working with a bioengineer to generate cells that can help a baby recover from heart failure at birth. Tu, the stem cell core facility coordinator, moved into stem cell research from another field because of the possibilities.

“They must have this passion,” she said. “A lot of times, outcome is negative. You have to overcome that to see what you want to accomplish.”

Nancy Luke, a lawyer stricken with multiple sclerosis, encouraged the students to move science forward.

“What I have is the hope that [what UCI is studying] can cure MS,” she said. “Researchers rock. And you guys will be the heroes.”

That’s what Stem Cell Awareness Day is all about: Exposing people to those heroes, and encouraging students to become heroes themselves.

A.A.

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