Obama honors Stanford Medical Youth Science Program

Executive Director Judith Ned, center in solid red dress, surrounded by Stanford Medical Youth Science Program students in 2007 during the program's 20th-year celebration.

The Stanford Medical Youth Science Program Tuesday was named as a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for mentoring in these fields, carries a $25,000 prize from the National Science Foundation to help further SMYSP’s efforts. The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.

“We are thrilled that Stanford and the School of Medicine — whose students, faculty and staff have been instrumental to our success — are being recognized by this wonderful award,” said MARILYN WINKLEBY, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. Winkleby founded SMYSP in 1988 with two pre-med students, and has since served as its faculty director. Each year, 10 Stanford undergraduates oversee the summer residential program.

SMYSP focuses on low-income and under-represented minority high school students from northern and central California. Those who are selected receive full tuition for the five-week program on the university campus. During that time, participants are immersed in science and medicine through a broad curriculum that includes anatomy classes in the human cadaver lab; hospital internships; group research projects; lectures by prominent scientists and physicians; college admissions and standardized test preparation; and long-term guidance to aid them on their path to science and health professions.

“SMYSP reaches students who may feel they are not academically competitive and promotes confidence and awareness of their capabilities in science and medicine,” said Executive Director JUDITH NED, She added that the presidential award is a validation of  pipeline programs in the field and “a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of pride in watching the students develop. It’s also wonderful for the university and School of Medicine to be recognized in this manner.”

The program’s results are impressive. More than 80 percent of its 547 alumni have graduated from four-year colleges, many of them the first in their family to do so. Among SMYSP’s college graduates, 47 percent are attending or have completed medical or graduate school, and 43 percent are working as or training to become health professionals.

Read the full story on the Medical School’s news website.