Saturday Morning Science expands successful program

July 1, 2012

Dr. Jim Phillips
Dr. Jim Phillips

After seven successful years serving hundreds of local middle and high school students, the Saturday Morning Science program at Baylor College of Medicine will expand its reach next year by adding a second session of classes that will focus on reproductive medicine and research.

Founded in 2005 by Dr. Jim Phillips, senior associate dean and professor of pediatrics at BCM and director of the Office of Diversity and Community Outreach, Saturday Morning Science is a community outreach program aimed at motivating students from 7th through 12th grades from underserved areas to reach their highest potential. The students come from more than 40 schools throughout the greater Houston area.

The program includes lectures and workshops that are conducted on the BCM campus. The sessions stress the importance of math and science in a creative and fun way and are taught by physicians, scientists, astronauts and BCM medical and graduate students.

The reproductive medicine themed session will be structured a little differently but with the same goal of getting students excited about the sciences. It will start in September, and is open only to high school students who have already completed the original Saturday Morning Science program.

The expanded program was developed by Phillips in collaboration with Drs. Dolores Lamb and Francesco DeMayo, director and associate director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, after they lectured in the last session of Saturday Morning Science about important leading-edge research going on in this field.

Drs. Dolores Lamb
Drs. Dolores Lamb

"The Center for Reproductive Medicine has a mission of research, education and community service and we felt that topics on reproductive health could be ideal for the Saturday Morning Science students," said Lamb, who is also professor of urology and of molecular and cell biology at BCM.

The students will benefit from this introduction to an area of medicine and research that they perhaps had not given much thought to previously, Lamb said.

"It's a good opportunity for participants to gain an understanding of reproductive biology and reproductive medicine. The reproductive system is something that affects us throughout our lifespan, and we think students will find this area of science to be quite interesting," Lamb said.

Lectures will include:

  • Genetic engineering using mouse models for understanding female reproduction, Dr. Francesco DeMayo, professor of molecular and cell biology
  • There and back again with adult stem cells - Dr. Austin Cooney, associate professor of molecular and cell biology
  • Science in the clinic – how doctors help patients with assisted reproduction - Dr. William Gibbons, professor of obstetrics and gynecology
  • What genetics can tell us about male and female fertility and cancer - Dr. Lamb and Dr. Martin Matzuk, professor of pathology

Phillips is pleased about the expansion of the Saturday Morning Science program. He hopes that the two sessions now being offered, along with other elements of Saturday Morning Science, such as summer research at BCM for college and high school students, will help alleviate the shortage of minority physicians.

"One of the ways in which we can improve care for the underserved is by having more physicians who are black and Hispanic. Programs such as Saturday Morning Science just might be the launching pad for our future physicians and researchers," he said.

Learn more by visiting the Saturday Morning Science program website.