High school students explore new career paths with Young Scientist Program

For eight weeks this summer, St. Louis high school students Cherise Gilmore and Christopher Leatherwood worked in laboratories at Washington University School of Medicine. Gilmore studied aceruloplasminemia, an inherited neurodegenerative disease, and Leatherwood delved into skeletal disorders. They are part of the Young Scientist Program (YSP) at the School of Medicine, which provides a way for disadvantaged high school students to learn about scientific careers.

Area high school students take a different kind of summer break in the Young Scientist Program.

During summer research internships, 12 other high school juniors like Gilmore and Leatherwood conduct bench research 40 hours a week under the guidance of graduate school and faculty mentors.

YSP graduate student volunteers also take scientific demonstrations into school classrooms and provide St. Louis City Public High School teachers with resources that facilitate inquiry-based learning.

A unique feature of the YSP is that it is entirely run by graduate/medical students and postdoctoral volunteers from the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A group of graduate students in the Division of Biology and Biological Sciences started the YSP in 1991 to educate, focus and inspire St. Louis high school students interested in science.

YSP is currently supported by Pfizer Inc., the Washington University Medical School Alumni Association, the Washington University School of Medicine – Office of Diversity Programs, the Washington University Medical Scientist Training Program and the American Association of Anatomists.