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Biotechnology Students Organize 'Last Lecture' Series

Students in the Health Science Intensive (HSI) program are organizing a “last lecture” series to bring together health science professionals, JHU students and members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

“Last lecture” is a reference to a speech Professor Randy Pausch delivered at Carnegie Mellon University. He gave the speech in September 2007, shortly after learning he was dying from pancreatic cancer. His inspiring remarks became an internet sensation, and now several universities develop “last lecture series” in which faculty and others give lectures on a topic of their choosing, with the goal of offering words of wisdom to the audience.

The HSI students are planning the last lecture series at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus for 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Friday, April 13. The HSI students have lined up speakers from JHU faculty, Osher and the National Cancer Institute. (HSI is a program within the biotechnology’s master’s degree. Students in the concentration take rigorous life sciences classes to prove their aptitude to study medicine. Most HSI students plan to enroll in medical school after completing the biotechnology degree.)

“Knowing the audience at the event will be health science professionals and students, we hope to conduct a talk with the thought that this will be the speaker’s last chance to bestow wisdom or knowledge on fellow colleagues and future healthcare professionals,” said Kenny Tran, one of the HSI students organizing the event. “From going to this event, attendees should leave with not only the hope to potentially change the healthcare field but to reflect on their actions and what they want to do to impact others.”

Each speaker will talk for approximately 15 minutes. The lineup is:

  • Dr. Andrea Baruchin, Osher course coordinator and former senior adviser to the president at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
  • Calvin Chue, lecturer, JHU Advanced Academic Programs, Biotechnology Department; and research biologist at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.
  • Barbara Dunn, program director, National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Prevention; and her husband, Mohammed Ashraf Aziz of Howard University College of Medicine Anatomy Department.
  • Sandra San Miguel, program director, National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.
  • Roza Selimyan, lecturer, JHU Advanced Academic Programs, Biotechnology Department; and former scientist at the National Institutes of Health.

There is no charge to attend the event, though donations will be accepted. Any proceeds will go to the Osher program; Osher has helped sponsor and promote the event.

“Partnering with Osher was important because of their goal of life-long learning,” Tran said. “Education is the important aspect that connects all of us on this campus, so we wanted to ensure Osher members got a chance to interact with students at JHU.”

“We thought this would be a great way for students to hear from individuals who have succeeded in careers we hope to enter,” HSI student Philip Whalen said. “We hope we cause an intermingling between attendees, where a biotech student can leave the event and engage in a unique conversation with an Osher student.”

CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community