Award-winning UC student researches stem cell work
ROGATE in-depth study has academic and personal benefits
Apr 13, 2014 | 4180 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print

In order to receive the Gold Satori award, I, Alexandria Suarez, an eighth grade Union City student who participates in the ROGATE program (Resources Offered For Gifted And Talented Education), a program sponsored by the EIRC National Talent Network, completed an in-depth research project for which I won a Silver Toward Satori Award last year in seventh grade, community outreach, media publication, received a ROGATE award for a high score on my SAT, as well as further expansion of my research project.

My presentation is titled “Embryonic Cells: Beneficial or Harmful?” My thesis is: “The government should fund stem cell research and support the use of Embryonic Stem Cells, due to their ability to duplicate while not differentiating, for further research to be done.”

Initially, the supporting evidence throughout the research that I conducted displayed favoring viewpoints as to why the government should indeed fund and support the utilization of stem cells. The research led to findings that explained the purpose of the Stem Cells, which is to benefit our medical field and their ability to divide to make copies of themselves for long periods of time while not differentiating.

Additionally, information found was that stem cells are frequently referred to as lives by those not in favor of embryonic stem cell research, despite the advantages such as their use in bone marrow transplants, as healthy cells that “replace the damaged bone tissue,” as well as being used to treat a plethora of disorders such as Leukemia, among others.

To further elaborate on my project and hypothesis, I conducted an interview with Martin Grumet, a Rutgers professor who teaches Cell Biology and Neuroscience. He is also the current director of the Stem Cell Research Center at Rutgers University. I asked Mr. Grumet many questions, for which I recorded significant responses, including one in which Mr. Grumet provided instances in which the Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) were used for medical purposes such as bone marrow transplants, and future purposes that would include utilizing the cells to experiment with certain newly-developed drugs.

Religious beliefs arouse opposition

Moreover, throughout my research, there were many articles which provided definitive answers to questions, contained a wealth of information, and stated that Embryonic Stem Cells have the ability to regenerate various tissue, organs and cells within the human body. It was also interesting to learn that the state of California has made a large investment in this type of research due to its potential.

I found that the disadvantage lies in the fact that many people, due to religious and scientific beliefs, have the perception that an embryo is a human and therefore are opposed to the research. The topic of Embryonic Stem Cells inspired me to further expand my research the following year. My Embryonic Stem Cell Research Project last year in seventh grade led me to receive a Silver Toward Satori Award, the highest award in my category within my first year in the ROGATE program. I also won a ROGATE award for scoring a total of 1320 on the SAT, 61 percent higher than high school seniors.

Aside from also fulfilling various other requirements by performing community outreach at the Columbia Stem Cell Day event in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on April 1, 2014, an annual event consisting of seminars showcasing latest research with invited guests and keynote speakers including Nobel Prize winning scientists, I was exposed to more information about my topic. As a result, I feel more knowledgeable and satisfied with the information covered in my presentation.

Furthermore, throughout each of the ROGATE weekday and weekend meetings, I was able to present the progress of my development of the concept and completion of my project while being mentored by peers and administrators on how to strategically improve my work.

My top priorities are to achieve my maximum potential within the ROGATE program and beyond. Through further expanding my research, I have learned that acceptance of stem cell research as a general alternative to standard medicine has grown, and, as evidence, the U.S. is now funding several stem cell organizations and implementing modern stem cell procedures and equipment which are beginning to be utilized in the top hospitals in the U.S.

The plethora of tasks which compose and are referred to as ROGATE provides students with challenges which benefit their education. It has provided me as well as my peers with a better understanding of creative problem solving and conducting original research methods, tools which benefit in furthering our education. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the ROGATE program, which I feel has provided me with the initiative and confidence necessary to succeed in the future.

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