Hillcrest Biomedical students use the research equipment now available to them on campus.

The Hillcrest Biomedical Group now has essential tools at their fingertips.

In our November 2010 issue, we featured the Hillcrest High School Biomedical Group, an elite set of students who spend their weekends and summers at the UT Southwestern McDonald Laboratory, researching the structural modeling of the c-terminal domain of ptf1a bound to mammalian rbpj and rbpjl. Translation: The students have analyzed key areas of the pancreas at the embryonic level, identifying where deficiencies happen. And in the bigger picture, that means finding a cure for cancer.

Now, through grant money from National Institutes of Health and the National Science Teachers Association, the students now have their very own laboratory at Hillcrest.

“It grew so large that I’m not able to mentor all the students on the weekends,” says Dr. Ward Coats, the Hillcrest science teacher who leads the Biomedical Group, which has attracted about 55 students.

Using the lab equipment on campus, seniors will be able to help incoming freshmen and sophomores continue the current research.

“They become the teachers,” Coats says, and that’s huge step in the learning process.

The students are headed to Washington D.C. April 9 for the 2011 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual conference where Nicholas Osborn and Kelly Stein will present their research in poster format alongside graduate students. They’ll also rub elbows with 10,000 scientists from around the world, including Nobel Prize winners and the National Institutes of Health president, a key player in deciding the allocation of funds for academic research.

If you didn’t catch back in November, an Advocate video follows a few students during a typical Saturday morning conducting research at UT Southwestern:

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.