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Cedars-Sinai Invites High School Students to Submit Essays, Attend Stem Cell Program

Los Angeles - Feb. 24, 2013 – Three winners of a high school essay contest on stem cells will receive a cash award and the chance to volunteer in a stem cell research laboratory during the summer. All high school students – essayists or not – and parents and teachers are invited to a 5 to 7 p.m. program on March 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to learn more about these cells that may revolutionize many medical therapies.

Students who choose to participate in the contest must submit by March 7 an essay on any one of three topics:

  • Discuss the ethical and social issues involved with the use of embryonic stem cells
  • Discuss the recent successes of the use of stem cells in therapy for human diseases
  • Discuss the challenges of making stem cell therapies more viable for human use

Winning essays will be chosen by a selection committee that will value content over length, although essays are expected to be long enough to address the topic researched. References, which must be cited in the text, may include periodicals, textbooks and websites, but not Wikipedia. Awards range from $200 to $500.

Winners will be announced during the March 14 program, "Introduction to the World of Stem Cells." Advanced registration is available at www.cedars-sinai.edu/neurosurgeryconferences, under Student Conferences; same-day registration will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Cedars-Sinai research scientists and clinicians will present sessions on:

  • An introduction to stem cells and issues related to different types
  • Differing scientific opinions, ethical issues and how scientists are working to resolve conflicts
  • Adult stem cells versus embryonic stem cells for therapy
  • Careers related to stem cells
  • Stem cell "Jeopardy!" game
  • Presentation of essay awards

The program will be led by John S. Yu, MD, vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and director of surgical neuro-oncology, and Dwain Morris-Irvin, PhD, neural stem cell research scientist and principal investigator with the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

Ahmed Ibrahim, who has a master’s in public health and is in Cedars-Sinai’s Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine, also will speak. As a high school student, Ibrahim participated in a summer research project at Cedars-Sinai. He now conducts stem cell research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, which in 2009 performed the first procedure where a heart attack patient’s own heart tissue was used to grow specialized stem cells that were injected back into the heart. The researchers found significant reduction in the size of heart attack-caused scars in patients who underwent the experimental stem cell procedure, compared to other heart attack patients who did not receive the experimental therapy.  

For questions or essay submission, contact Samantha Phu, academic program coordinator for the Department of Neurosurgery, at samantha.phu@cshs.org or (310) 423-9522.

"Introduction to the World of Stem Cells," which will be in Cedars-Sinai’s Harvey Morse Auditorium, is one of three programs to be presented by the Department of Neurosurgery during Brain Awareness Week March 11-17. The annual "Brainworks" program for seventh and eighth graders will be from 10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. on March 11; a two-day conference for scientific and health care professionals on nanomedicine for imaging and treatment will be on March 15 and 16.