The Precision Medicine Lab hosted four of the brightest high schoolers around as part of our first edition of the Summer Internship programme. This was a 6-weeks of full-time engagement in the lab covering exposure to everything from ideation, literature review, data mining, poster prep, report writing and presenting their work in a relevant-life Cancer Symposium. Although most projects this time around were data-based and used computational tools, we made sure to sprinkle some lab experience as well where the interns spent some good time in the lab under supervision of their dedicated mentors.
To give our readers a round up, we interviewed Shahram Khan, the Community Lead at the Lab who led the whole programme from the front. The following are his thoughts.
What is the Summer internship programme?
With COVID19, this school year was out of the ordinary especially for high-schoolers who spent a good part of almost 6 months out of school, with almost no in-person interaction with the outside world. In normal circumstances this would have been a high pressure time for them, but this summer they got their predicted grades instead of having to take an exam. This left them intellectually unchallenged, and to be honest some of the smart ones found themselves bored. PML took this as an opportunity to use the potential of these students and give them a real-life, in-house lab experience in return. The PML Summer Internship 2020 programme was a competitive 6-week programme for exceptional high school students from across the country. Interested students were invited to apply and join any of the following teams: biology/medicine, data science, hardware engineering and science communication. We received a total of 66 applications out of which 4 students were selected after a round of essays and interviews.
Why does PML host this?
With the exception of medicine, our students remain to be unexposed to the full glory of biological sciences especially at the cellular and molecular level. Working in a lab gives them the necessary exposure to the subject and its potential to change the world, which is otherwise unavailable to students their age. Secondly, this not only gives them a taste of real-world scientific research but also a headstart in their pursuit to choose a career. Apart from that, we believe, continued association with these students could result in them becoming flag bearers of scientific excellence in Pakistan in the future.