Summer program offers teens chance to advance cancer research

INDIANAPOLIS - A group of Indianapolis high school students is spending the summer working to advance cancer research.

Mohamed Abedelmalik is 17, but his sights are set on more than just graduation.

Abedelmalik spends 40 hours a week in a lab at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center researching how breast cancer affects bones and a drug that could slow the process.

The subject matter keeps him guessing, but he is more interested in the tools that drive the research. It is his curiosity that has him dreaming of becoming a biomedical engineer -- an interest his mentor is thankful to have in the lab.

"The program pays Mohamed, but actually we don't pay him -- we get all this free help," associate research professor Khalid Mohammad with the IU Department of Medicine said.

The free help in the multi-year, multi-million dollar research project is a huge asset for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Most of the science-minded students who apply to the program are simply humbled by the experience.

"I don't know if I want to do it as a career yet because I was aiming toward being a physician. But, ideally, I'd want to do both if I could," high school researcher Andrea Martinez said.

Martinez and Abedelmalik are part of the 12th round of students to get white coats as part of the Summer Research Program.

"It just shows you -- at age 17 -- you're capable of doing much more than what society says you can," Abedelmalik said.

Abedelmalik and his fellow young researchers are setting new expectations for teens their age in an ever-competitive world where getting ahead early can set you apart.

Click here for more information on the Summer Research Program --

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