Since 1993 the Hektoen Institute for Medical Research has sponsored The Morris Friedell Mentorship Program (“program”) in honor of the late Dr. Morris Friedell, founding member of Hektoen and former Chairman of the Hektoen Board. The program encourages promising minority high school students to enter health science careers. Students are recruited with the help of Science Department Chairs from Chicago public schools (i.e., Kenwood Academy, Hyde Park High School and Whitney Young) and are assigned to work under the direct supervision of scientists and physicians in Nephrology and Urology and Hektoen’s Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Electrophoresis and Tissue Culture labs for a minimum of eight weeks. During this time they learn routine laboratory work and perform basic laboratory tests under the supervision of a senior staff member. They also carry out library assignments at the University of Illinois Health Sciences Library, participate in experiments, and attend various CCH and University of Illinois lectures and conferences. This program is part of Hektoen Institute’s commitment to advance science and develop better health care systems. The program gives minority students interested in health sciences an opportunity to interact closely with scientists, helps to prepare them to make educational choices, and encourages them to set career goals, hopefully in the health sciences.
The Program has had several significant outcomes:
- It has evolved from a summer experience in a research/health care setting under the direction of a mentor to a situation in which student participation is essential for the realization of research goals. The additional manpower (the students) enables Nephrology, Urology and several Hektoen Laboratories to do research of a scope not possible before.
- Many students participate for more than one year. It was not anticipated initially that by utilizing students for a second summer (and sometimes part-time throughout the school year), there was a pool of trained, competent laboratory assistants who could work with minimal supervision. This gives the students more in-depth experience and allows them to build on the skills they already The repeat students know that their training and expertise are primary factors in their selection for a second summer, thus giving them performance incentives, a greater sense of accomplishment in their abilities and a greater commitment to pursue a career in the medical sciences.
- Students who work on specific projects have the opportunity to present their work in science fairs at their home school and to participate in science scholarship competitions resulting in important recognition for the program.
- A working relationship has developed with the public school science departments who now know what the program offers because of the positive feedback from the They send us their top students in the biological sciences. High School class valedictorians, salutatorians and state-level science fair winners were mentored. Most of the students have become recipients of scholarships.