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Genetics department hosts high school conference – Baylor College of Medicine News

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For the 11th year, the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine will host a genetics educational conference for advanced placement biology students at Bellaire High School in Houston on Feb. 12.

“This program allows students to learn about genetics in a hands-on way, and interacting directly with experts in the field provides an in-depth perspective,” said Dr. Fernando Scaglia, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, leader of the program and mentor to the students. “Exposing students to the world of genetics earlier in their academic career may open their minds to becoming the researchers or physician scientists of the future.”

This year, the event will include Baylor medical students involved in the specialized Genetics Pathway, as well as fellows in molecular and human genetics at Baylor.  

The event is sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics, the Genetics Society of America, the National Sciences Resources Center and the National Association of Biology Teachers. It is part of the Geneticist-Educator Network of Alliances Project, a science project designed to build a framework of long-term collaboration between educators and geneticists and a sustainable infrastructure to facilitate the meaningful outreach efforts by genetics faculty members in secondary education.

Anna Loonam, an advanced placement biology teacher at Bellaire High School, will lead the event, called “Genetics Night,” with Scaglia.

“My students have researched various human genetic disorders and made display boards; they will present their topics to each other and the public,” said Loonam. “This event provides them with the opportunity to learn material not covered in the AP curriculum and to interact with medical school students and faculty members from Baylor College of Medicine.”

Students from the advanced placement biology classes will participate in a poster session discussion on various genetic disorders, including Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, fragile X syndrome and MELAS syndrome, among others. Divided into groups and assigned to research different disorders, the students will educate their peers on each genetic disorder, the gene mutation or chromosomal abnormality-involved symptoms and research advances.

The presentations will be judged by Scaglia, Baylor medical students and fellows, and Loonam.

The event will be held on Feb. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the science conference center (room190) at Bellaire High School, 5100 Maple St., Bellaire, TX 77401. It is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the faculty lot on S. Rice. For more information, please contact Anna Loonam at ALOONAM@houstonisd.org.

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