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Baylor genetics department hosts sixth-annual high school educational conference

For the sixth year in a row, 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. 5.

"It is very relevant to increase exposure to science among high school students," said Dr. Fernando Scaglia, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, leader of the program and mentor to the students. "If students are exposed to science from an early start, they will be motivated to become investigators or physician scientists interested in human genetics or other medical-related fields."

Medical students, fellows

This year, the event will include Baylor medical students involved in the specialized Medical School Genetics Track, 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.

Learning outside the book

“This is a great opportunity for my students to present their research and learn from their peers about human genetics which is not included in the AP Biology curriculum,” said Loonam. “Also, as many of my students consider pursuing a career in medicine, being able to interact with the medical students provides great insight.”

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 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. 5. from 6 to 8 p.m. science conference center (room190) at Bellaire High School, 5100 Maple St., Bellaire, TX 77401-4999.

It is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the faculty lot.

For more information, please contact Anna Loonam at ALOONAM@houstonisd.org.