Howard Students Hosted at NIH
By Carla Garnett
Photos by Bill Branson
On the Front Page...
Dr. James Hildreth was 11 years old when his father developed renal cancer. Poor and black in rural Arkansas, the elder Hildreth had few healthcare options.
"All that we could do was watch him wither away and die," said the now-adult James, a graduate of Harvard who earned an M.D. and a Ph.D., is a professor of pharmacology at Johns Hopkins, and who, until recently, was a researcher at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. "I was angry then, and I'm still angry now, because in my mind, it was a health disparity that caused my father's death. So my life's goal at 11 years old was to get into Harvard, so I could get into medical school. I was going to become a doctor. I was going to go to medical school even though there was no one else who looked like me practicing medicine where I grew up."
Hildreth told that story to more than two dozen students from several Howard University programs who were visiting NIH on June 22 under the auspices of the Office of Research on Women's Health. The programs represented include the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, the Leadership Program, and the Research Experience for Undergraduates. Welcomed to campus by NIH associate director for research on women's health and former Howard professor Dr. Vivian Pinn, the students also heard briefings on the Human Genome Project by Dr. Ron King of NHGRI, on cancer research and training by Dr. Fredrick Leach of NCI, on research training and partnership programs by NIDCD director Dr. James Battey, on the NIH Loan Repayment Program by LRPP Director Marc Horowitz and on student training opportunities by James Alexander, deputy director of the NIH Office of Education. A tour of interactive resources at the National Library of Medicine capped the day's events.
Kay Johnson Graham, EEO officer for NIDCD and NINR and a coordinator of the students' trip here, said NIH hopes the yearly visit helps participants match their potential to one of the myriad careers in medical research and research training.
"The whole point," Hildreth explained to the group, "is to get young people like yourselves interested in research and to encourage you to use your considerable talents to solve some of these problems."
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