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High School Summer Course: Applications of Precision Medicine in Public Health

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High school students this summer can learn about one of the hottest and perhaps most transformative approaches in modern medicine: precision health.

Students in the two-week course, Applications of Precision Medicine in Public Health, will learn about the Precision Medicine Initiative, the goal of which is to “enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, providers and patients work together to develop individualized care.”

The 1-credit course will run 8:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Monday through Friday, July 24-Aug. 4 on the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.

The course will introduce students to the principles of precision medicine across the care continuum and will encourage students to think about how precision medicine will change the medical and public health landscape. Students also will learn about the challenges to incorporating precision medicine into the health care system.

Students will hear lectures from the instructors, listen to invited speakers, tackle case studies and participate in small-group activities. At the end of the course, students will debate whether precision medicine will help or harm current public health priorities.

The class will be taught by Megan Roberts, a post-doctoral cancer prevention fellow in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in the National Cancer Institute. Her research focuses on breast cancer disparities. Tamara Litwin, a cancer prevention fellow in the Clinical Genetics Branch of the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, also will teach.

When discussing the history of precision medicine, students will read articles about Angelina Jolie, who had a double mastectomy. Jolie didn’t have breast cancer but had tested positive for mutations in the BRCA1 gene, putting her at high risk.

Students will discuss how genetic and non-genetic factors can be used to target disease prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. They will learn how to evaluate how precision medicine treatments may affect health disparities. Students also will explore how policy influences research initiatives, Roberts said.

High school students interested in genomics, genetics, public health, biology or medicine are encouraged to apply, Roberts said.

“Precision medicine is the future of how we treat and prevent disease,” Roberts said. “My goal is for students to have a better idea of what precision medicine is, not only what the promises are but what the challenges might be.”

CATEGORY: Academics, K-12 Outreach