2011 Celebration of Research
Over 200 high school students and their teachers found a unique way to beat the winter blahs in February. Selected juniors and seniors from southeast Minnesota high schools visited Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus for the 13th biennial "Celebration of Research." Although stormy weather kept some of the invitees from traveling to the daylong conference, those who attended learned about careers in science via hands-on activities.
Students learned about Mayo's early discoveries, including cortisone and the G-suit, and heard about the future, including individual genome sequencing, which will soon be affordable and standard for everyone.
They used virtual reality goggles to view a patient's entire 3-D hip structure. Others used ultrasound to carve their names into plexiglass — a fun activity that also taught about the versatility of the technology. Some were rigged up on exercise equipment that monitors all sorts of bodily functions. Others were introduced to robotic surgery, and some examined zebra fish embryos through the lens of a $40,000 scope.
Three tours per student, from a selection of more than 20 participating laboratories, all aided in the effort to nurture interest in medical research.
"It's our job to let these kids be aware of the opportunities," says event Chair David I. Smith, Ph.D. "A lot of people think Mayo Clinic is just a place for doctors and nurses, but there's a whole research enterprise here. There are many technologists and a variety of different careers."
Mayo's ability to provide world-class health care relies in part on robust patient-focused research. From the earliest days, research has been an imperative and encouraged by the founders.
"The research we do today will determine the type of medical and surgical practice we carry on at the clinic tomorrow," said one of Mayo Clinic's founders William J. Mayo, M.D.
And the youth of today are the next generation of scientists.
"I suppose our next step will be going to the nurseries to look for the best and brightest," says Dr. Smith, "but this is a really good stage — getting these kids when they're starting to think about college."