Alverno College and the Medical College of Wisconsin team up for STEM students

Aug. 17, 2012

Alverno College and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) are teaming up to conduct a week-long workshop on genomics and bioinformatics. The workshop, which aims to give minority students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics critical hands-on experience, is funded by the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation.
The workshop takes place August 13 through 17 at MCW, and is led by a team of faculty from MCW and Alverno College, including Elizabeth Worthey, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Dr. Mary Shimoyama, Ph.D., assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, both of MCW’s Human and Molecular Genetics Center; and Dr. Sherry Seston, associate professor of Biology at Alverno College.
Twelve minority students from Alverno and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee are enrolled in the workshop. This fall, students will teach a portion of what they learned in one of their classes.
“This workshop will benefit the students by reinforcing what they have learned in the classroom and showing them the direct application of their learning in the exciting field of medical genomics,” said Dr. Seston. “Many local students don’t realize the tremendous opportunities there are for research in the Milwaukee area. This workshop connects senior researchers with beginning undergraduates to help inform and excite the students about local career opportunities in the STEM fields.”
Students taking part in the workshop will follow the case study of Nic Volker, a young boy suffering from an undiagnosed and severe intestinal disease. In an effort to diagnose him, specialists at MCW and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin sequenced Nic’s DNA and identified the single genetic mutation responsible for his disease. From there, physicians were able to treat and ultimately cure Nic.
“This is the cutting edge of medical care and diagnostics,” said Dr. Worthey. “MCW and
Children’s Hospital are leaders in clinical whole genome sequencing, and it is a unique opportunity for teachers and for the participating students, to share what we believe is a key component of medical care of the future with these students.”
The students will have the opportunity not only to learn about the tools and types of analysis used to identify Nic’s mutation, but also will get hands-on experience using the tools developed for DNA analysis at MCW.

About Alverno College
Alverno College, a four-year independent, Catholic, liberal arts college for women, exists
to promote the personal and professional development of its students. The college has earned accolades
and respect internationally for its highly effective ability-based, assessment-as-learning approach to
education, and has consulted with three U.S. presidential administrations on accountability and outcomes
in higher education. For two years in a row, Alverno College has been ranked first in the Midwest for doing “the best job of educating undergrads” by U.S. News & World Report. Educators from throughout the world visit Alverno to learn about its proven, student-centered teaching methods.
Alverno offers more than 35 major program areas of study, including graduate programs in education, nursing, community psychology and business that are open to women and men. For more information about Alverno, visit our website at or call 414-382-6100.
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About the Medical College of Wisconsin
The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and service. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in the Medical College’s medical school and graduate school programs. A major national research center, it is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY 2010 – 11, faculty received more than $175 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which more than $161 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, College faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,200 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,350 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 400,000 patients annually.
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