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Segerstrom Science Symposium: “Embrace Medical Discovery Today: Training Scientists for Tomorrow”

by Sarah Reinhart ‘10

The second installment in a three-part symposium celebrating the grand opening of the newly completed, $54 million Segerstrom Science Center took place January 14, 2010 in the completely packed Perry Lecture Hall. Featuring a panel of distinguished medical professionals as well as a plenary session with keynote speaker David Baltimore, Ph.D., president emeritus of the California Institute of Technology and Nobel Laureate, this part of the symposium welcomed renowned local health care professionals to APU's campus. The $54 million building provided the perfect location for students and faculty to gather to engage with these individuals as they discussed the future of public health care.

Panelists included Baltimore; James Miser, M.D., former CEO of City of Hope Medical Center and pediatric oncologist, Claire Pomeroy, M.D., MBA, vice chancellor for human health services and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis; and Aja Lesh, Ph.D., RN, NP, dean of APU's School of Nursing. Moderated by Jon Milhon, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biology and Chemistry, the superior caliber of dialogue and expertise of the presenters kept the audience riveted. Specifically, the conversation centered on the responsibility of today's medical professionals to develop a new teaching method in order to give a new generation of students aspiring to a public health care career a well-rounded education. The panelists noted that providing a more integrated university curriculum will help the students gain knowledge beyond their discipline and guide them toward seeking creative solutions to their discipline-specific problems.

During the plenary session, which took place in Upper Turner Campus Center on East Campus, Baltimore discussed his research regarding the control of inflammatory and immune responses, as well as a program entitled "Engineering Immunity" which employs gene therapy to treat HIV and cancer.

"Science teaches you to think about evidence and probability and to be humble about the nature of knowledge and evidence. Science feeds our curiosity about the world around us," He said.

Baltimore also spoke about the scientific challenges facing America today, and the potential benefits of a scientific mindset across all disciplines. During the question and answer time immediately following the lecture, APU students engaged in thoughtful discussion with Baltimore.

"It was truly amazing to watch my peers ask questions and interact with Baltimore in a way that would be impossible in an everyday setting," said Clifford Gee '10.

"Hosting a Vice Chancellor of a major university and Nobel laureate is a once in a lifetime experience for us. To interact with scientists with such high standing in the field in an intimate setting on topics that we are all deeply concerned about will be something our students will never forget," said Milhon.

The third and final portion of the symposium will take place March 19, and will focus on bioethics. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.