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Peninsula teens selected for national gene research program
Two Semiahmoo Secondary School students will be spending their spring break working with some of Canada's top research scientists.
Fred Zhu and Nury Lee are among 48 Canadian students selected to be a Gene Researcher for a Week, a program offered by the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation.
The 17-year-old South Surrey residents were selected based on their application essays, interest in science, their academic standing, and extracurricular community involvement.
"I was pretty excited (when I heard the news)," Zhu told Peace Arch News Thursday during an interview between classes.
"Quite thrilled" is how Lee described her reaction.
Zhu will spend March 19-23 in the University of B.C. Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics with host scientist Dr. Wyeth Wasserman, a senior scientist and professor in the Department of Medical Genetics, UBC.
"I think science was always going to be a path for me," said Zhu, who is especially interested in research into genetic cures for certain disabilities.
During the same period, Lee will be in the UBC department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with host scientist Dr. Eric Jan, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Lee said since she started working as a volunteer with autistic children, she has become fascinated with the genetic condition.
She thinks she will become a doctor specializing in autism.
Zhu said he is still uncertain about his future profession.
"I feel like I should decide," he said, apologetically.
"It's good that you're keeping doors open," she told Zhu.
Sandra MacPherson, board chair for the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation said the point of the Gene Researcher For a Week program is to encourage the country's brightest students to consider a career in the field of human genetics "and, eventually, become the next generation of leading-edge scientists."
During their week, the students will conduct "real, hands-on science experiments (to) learn how genes cause human genetic disorders and how top scientists translate these findings into treatments and cures for genetic diseases," a foundation statement said.
The Canadian Gene Cure Foundation (CGCF) is a registered Canadian charitable organization formed in 1998 to raise funds for medical genetics research in Canada to help scientists find cures and treatments for genetic disorders.