Early College High School Students Compete Internationally in HIV Research Project

{mosimage}Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

{mosimage}Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

The students’ impressive work gained them entry to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The group presented two of its HIV-related research projects during the meeting, which was held February 16-19 in Vancouver, Canada.

"This is a very motivated group of young scientists who have worked hard for this honor," Kestler said. "Their work created quite a buzz at the conference."

The LCCC early scientists presented their research alongside students from colleges and universities around the world. Their HIV research impressed fellow students and gained the attention of journalists covering the event.

"We were side-by-side with students from Ivy League schools. It was amazing," said Megan Sheldon, 17, of Sheffield Village.

The trip has been a long time coming for the students, many of whom have been part of the group since their freshman year of high school, when they begged their teachers for more hands-on experience in a science lab. The request led to a week of lab experiments, but the students still craved more.

"A few of us knew we wanted to go into science or medicine, so we asked to shadow Dr. Kestler for a day," recalled Victoria Soewarna, 16, of Elyria. "It was an awesome experience and from there he let a few of us join the college research group."

Over the years, the group has seen members come and go, but nine students remain, including eight Early College students. Five of them presented their research in Vancouver. Their research presentations are based on the study of an HIV-positive mother who passed the virus to four of her five children. The uninfected child had a unique genetic mutation, called a point mutation, and the LCCC team has researched theories for how this discovery could be used to cure HIV.

"People don’t take me very seriously at first when I tell them I do a lot of research," Victoria said. "When I start explaining that I’m studying HIV and things that pertain to the transmission of the virus, then they realize that this is serious stuff."

While the kids are excited to show off their work, they are also sure to discuss how fortunate they feel.

"This was an amazing experience and we’re all so grateful," said Alex Fulton, 16, of Elyria.

The results of the AAAS competition will be published in the April edition of Science magazine.
However, the research doesn’t stop now that the trip is over.

"We’re excited to start working on our next research project," Megan said.

The Early College High School is an exciting opportunity for first generation college students beginning in ninth grade; these students participate in a combined high school and college experience with the goal of earning a high school diploma and college associate degree at the same time.

For more information, call ECHS at (440) 366-4940 or visit www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.

Early College High School Students Compete Internationally in HIV Research Project

{mosimage}Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

{mosimage}Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

The students’ impressive work gained them entry to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The group presented two of its HIV-related research projects during the meeting, which was held February 16-19 in Vancouver, Canada.

"This is a very motivated group of young scientists who have worked hard for this honor," Kestler said. "Their work created quite a buzz at the conference."

The LCCC early scientists presented their research alongside students from colleges and universities around the world. Their HIV research impressed fellow students and gained the attention of journalists covering the event.

"We were side-by-side with students from Ivy League schools. It was amazing," said Megan Sheldon, 17, of Sheffield Village.

The trip has been a long time coming for the students, many of whom have been part of the group since their freshman year of high school, when they begged their teachers for more hands-on experience in a science lab. The request led to a week of lab experiments, but the students still craved more.

"A few of us knew we wanted to go into science or medicine, so we asked to shadow Dr. Kestler for a day," recalled Victoria Soewarna, 16, of Elyria. "It was an awesome experience and from there he let a few of us join the college research group."

Over the years, the group has seen members come and go, but nine students remain, including eight Early College students. Five of them presented their research in Vancouver. Their research presentations are based on the study of an HIV-positive mother who passed the virus to four of her five children. The uninfected child had a unique genetic mutation, called a point mutation, and the LCCC team has researched theories for how this discovery could be used to cure HIV.

"People don’t take me very seriously at first when I tell them I do a lot of research," Victoria said. "When I start explaining that I’m studying HIV and things that pertain to the transmission of the virus, then they realize that this is serious stuff."

While the kids are excited to show off their work, they are also sure to discuss how fortunate they feel.

"This was an amazing experience and we’re all so grateful," said Alex Fulton, 16, of Elyria.

The results of the AAAS competition will be published in the April edition of Science magazine.
However, the research doesn’t stop now that the trip is over.

"We’re excited to start working on our next research project," Megan said.

The Early College High School is an exciting opportunity for first generation college students beginning in ninth grade; these students participate in a combined high school and college experience with the goal of earning a high school diploma and college associate degree at the same time.

For more information, call ECHS at (440) 366-4940 or visit www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.

Early College High School Students Compete Internationally in HIV Research Project

{mosimage}Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

Eight Lorain County Early College High School students gather three times a week in the microbiology lab at Lorain County Community College to work toward a common goal: finding a cure for HIV.

{mosimage}Under the supervision of LCCC professor Harry Kestler, the students research the genetics behind HIV – specifically a deletion mutation gene that they believe could unlock a cure for the disease.

The students’ impressive work gained them entry to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The group presented two of its HIV-related research projects during the meeting, which was held February 16-19 in Vancouver, Canada.

"This is a very motivated group of young scientists who have worked hard for this honor," Kestler said. "Their work created quite a buzz at the conference."

The LCCC early scientists presented their research alongside students from colleges and universities around the world. Their HIV research impressed fellow students and gained the attention of journalists covering the event.

"We were side-by-side with students from Ivy League schools. It was amazing," said Megan Sheldon, 17, of Sheffield Village.

The trip has been a long time coming for the students, many of whom have been part of the group since their freshman year of high school, when they begged their teachers for more hands-on experience in a science lab. The request led to a week of lab experiments, but the students still craved more.

"A few of us knew we wanted to go into science or medicine, so we asked to shadow Dr. Kestler for a day," recalled Victoria Soewarna, 16, of Elyria. "It was an awesome experience and from there he let a few of us join the college research group."

Over the years, the group has seen members come and go, but nine students remain, including eight Early College students. Five of them presented their research in Vancouver. Their research presentations are based on the study of an HIV-positive mother who passed the virus to four of her five children. The uninfected child had a unique genetic mutation, called a point mutation, and the LCCC team has researched theories for how this discovery could be used to cure HIV.

"People don’t take me very seriously at first when I tell them I do a lot of research," Victoria said. "When I start explaining that I’m studying HIV and things that pertain to the transmission of the virus, then they realize that this is serious stuff."

While the kids are excited to show off their work, they are also sure to discuss how fortunate they feel.

"This was an amazing experience and we’re all so grateful," said Alex Fulton, 16, of Elyria.

The results of the AAAS competition will be published in the April edition of Science magazine.
However, the research doesn’t stop now that the trip is over.

"We’re excited to start working on our next research project," Megan said.

The Early College High School is an exciting opportunity for first generation college students beginning in ninth grade; these students participate in a combined high school and college experience with the goal of earning a high school diploma and college associate degree at the same time.

For more information, call ECHS at (440) 366-4940 or visit www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.

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