Firsthand Experience at Camp BIOmed, by Roya Amini-Naieni

From July 7th – August 15th, 2014,  Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR) hosted their first summer camp. The camp was split up into two tracks, one focusing on DNA and “origami of life,” held at the University of Washington, and a “do it yourself” biology track, focused on neuroscience, held at HiveBio. I decided to sign up for the neuroscience camp because it was described as more hands-on, which I personally prefer. Because of the great experience I had this summer, I am definitely going to sign up for the other track next year.

Out of all the camps I attended that summer, Camp BIOmed was my favorite by a longshot.  First of all, the itinerary was amazing.  The neuroscience themed camp was kickstarted with a visit to the Quarum Review IRB (Institutional Review Board) which is a committee established to review and approve research involving human subjects. The purpose of the IRB is to ensure that all human subject research is conducted in accordance with all federal, institutional, and ethical guidelines.  There we discussed historical events related to bioethics such as the horrific unethical experimentation that took place in Nazi Germany during World War II and the holocaust.  We also learned how to determine if a protocol seems ethical or unethical based on clues in the information provided to us.  I’m currently writing a research paper related to bioethics so that lesson was not only quite shocking and interesting, but also especially helpful.

Although seemingly improbable, the camp proceeded to get even more exciting.  We learned about so many fascinating topics like cloning, the functions of neurons, and protein synthesis.  After a lecture we would participate in engaging hands-on activities. We used restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis to gain a better understanding of cloning, dissected a sheep’s brain to help give us a basic understanding of the most complex organ in the body, and even built our own microscopes to provide us with more efficient, and not to mention less expensive, ways to have our own lab equipment.

On the last couple of days we got to explore CSNE (Center for Neural Engineering)  where we were actually given the opportunity to control a computer application with our minds, which was, in my opinion, so very cool.  The camp ended with a presentation of the science projects we developed during the last couple of days.  All in all, Camp BIOmed’s neuroscience track was absolutely splendid and it definitely made me want to pursue a biomedical related career even more.  Not only did I learn a lot about this field of study but I also established connections with people who shared the same interests as myself.

I am really looking forward to attending the second track next summer and if you’re interested in biology/neurology and don’t mind getting your hands dirty then I highly recommend attending Camp BIOmed as well.

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