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NJ, CT, NY & MD School Districts Join Program That Teaches High School Students How Medicines Are Made

August 12, 2008

A laboratory experiment that demonstrates how easily disease can spread, procedures to assure the safety of medicines, and learning how clinical trials are conducted are among the many lessons teachers from seven school districts in four states will learn this week at the R(x)eSEARCH Summer Institute at Montgomery High School.

Teachers from Lawrence, New Brunswick and North Brunswick, NJ; Wallingford, CT; Syracuse, NY; and Bethesda, MD, are joining the ranks of public school teachers who will offer the 11-lesson curriculum called “R(x)eSEARCH, An Educational Journey” to their high school students. In addition, representatives from the Robbinsville, NJ, school district are observing the program, which takes students from the spark of an idea for a new medicine through the research and development process to delivery of medicines to patients. The program is now being taught in more than 40 school districts in eastern and Midwestern states.

“This novel program breaks down barriers between subject areas at the high school level and allows students to explore and solve realistic problems in science, using an inquiry-based approach,” said Sally Goetz Shuler, Executive Director, National Science Resources Center (NSRC), an affiliate science education center of excellence of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. “It gives students a glimpse of how the science learned in school is applied in science-based industry, and it helps them get ready for working life.” The NSRC developed the curriculum in collaboration with a team of public school teachers in Montgomery and Newark, NJ, schools, as well as representatives of the pharmaceutical industry.

Lucille Davy, NJ Commissioner of Education, hails R(x)eSEARCH as a groundbreaking workforce development initiative with education and industry partners working together. “Equally important is its effectiveness in breaking down the silos in the traditional American high school that have made cross-disciplinary teaching so difficult to achieve,” she said. The lessons involve biology, chemistry, math, language arts and social studies, mirroring the pharmaceutical industry environment, in which scientists work with mathematicians, lawyers and marketers, among others.

High school administrators, biology, chemistry, math, business and even a music teacher are represented at the four-day course in Skillman. They hail from Sheehan and Lyman Hall High Schools in Wallingford, CT; East Syracuse HS, NY; Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS in Bethesda, MD. New Jersey schools represented include New Brunswick Health Sciences and Technology High School, North Brunswick HS and Lawrence HS. Teachers from Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville, NJ, will be observing the R(x)eSEARCH Summer Institute as well.

“In today’s global competition for talent, we need to help our graduating high school students get better prepared for the science and technology workplace. This program helps them learn and practice necessary skills in problem solving, critical thinking, resource management and decision making in a team environment. This is all about reality-based learning for our future work force,” said Anders Hedberg, Director of Corporate Philanthropy for Bristol-Myers Squibb, which originally created the R(x)eSEARCH program in collaboration with the NSRC and local schools.

“R(x)eSEARCH is the result of a strong public/private partnership working to address the needs of the pharmaceutical industry to compete in today’s global market,” said Wesley Methany, Senior VP, Alliances, Affordability and Access for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) & Chair of the R(x)eSEARCH Steering Committee. “It prepares young adults with a solid understanding of the sciences, the R&D process and the industry as a whole, so they can become the leaders of tomorrow. R(x)eSEARCH will certainly make a significant impact in the world of medicine.”

He noted that pharmaceutical industry sponsors include Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Schering-Plough, Wyeth, PhRMA and the HealthCare Institute of NJ. Other partners include the NJ Dept. of Education, the Iowa Dept. of Economic Development, Montclair State University, Iowa Central Community College and the Museum of Contemporary Sciences.

  SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING IN R(x)eSEARCH PROGRAM Based on teacher participation in Summer Institutes 

New Jersey

— Montgomery High School of Skillman

— Biotechnology High School of Monmouth County

— Arts High School of Newark

— East Side High School of Newark

— Malcolm X Shabazz of Newark

— West Side High School of Newark

— Weequahic High School of Newark

— University High School of Newark

— Central High School of Newark

— Health Sciences High School of New Brunswick

— Hopewell Valley Regional High School of Pennington

— West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North

— Princeton High School of Princeton Township

— Lawrence High School of Lawrence

— North Brunswick High School of North Brunswick

— Pond Run Middle School of Robbinsville (observers)

New York

— Tottenville High School of Staten Island

— East Syracuse-Minoa High School of Syracuse

Massachusetts

— Leominster High School of Leominster

Connecticut

— Sheehan High School of Wallingford

— Lyman Hall High School of Wallingford

Pennsylvania

— Germantown High School of Philadelphia

— Olney High School of Philadelphia

— Overbrook High School of Philadelphia

Maryland

— Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School of Chevy Chase

Iowa

— Humboldt High School of Humboldt

— Southeast Webster Grand of Burnside

— East High School of Des Moines

— Boone High School of Boone

— Forest City High School of Forest City

— Fort Dodge Senior High School of Fort Dodge

— Eddyville Blakes Burg High School of Eddyville

— St. Ansgar High School of St. Ansgar

— Le Mars Community Schools of Le Mars

— Mt. Vernon High School of Mt. Vernon

— Phillips Middle School of Prairie Lakes

— Vinton Shellsburg High School of Vinton

— Hinton High School of Hinton

— Clarion Goldfield High School of Clarion

— Schaller Crestland High School of Early

— Northeast Hamilton Community School of Blairsburg

— East Sac County of Lake View

— Ames High School of Ames

— Newell Fonda Schools of Newell

— Sumner Fredericksburg High School of Sumner

— Iowa Central Community College (as science education liaison to select Iowa high schools)