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Thursday, June 21, 2012



BRADFORD, Pa. — Werewolves and vampires are real – or at least based on real medical phenomenon.

Area students learned that and other Medical Mysteries during a high school enrichment course held at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford this week by Dr. Lauren Yaich, associate professor of biology.

Yaich’s course, “Medical Mysteries—Solved,” wrapped up Thursday and is the first of three enrichment courses being offered for high school students this summer.

Yaich covered six major topics in relation to the biology of the human body and treating diseases: myths such as werewolves and vampires, disorders of bones and muscles, disorders related to aging, cancer, neurological disorders, and careers in the medical field and medical research.

“I don’t have to stick to a strict curriculum” Yaich said of the course, which gives her a chance to talk about topics of special interest to her that she doesn’t always get to cover in regular university courses.

While the topics are fun, Yaich fills her lecture with plenty of real science. In the midst of teaching students all about various bone disorders and types of dwarfism, she reminded the students that the most important thing to take away from the course is the importance of the signaling pathways that cells in the human body use to communicate with each other. She explained that the key to a properly functioning human body is clear communication between all cells, and many disorders that cause problems like fragile bones occur when that communication breaks down.

One student, Leah Caminite of Smethport said, “Whether you want to be a doctor or not, this is definitely really interesting.”

Taylor Roggenbaum of Bradford was surprised to learn that myths of creatures like werewolves actually arose from real medical disorders.

High school graduate John Golden said this course helped “better prepare me for college classes.” Golden plans to attend Pitt-Bradford and major in biology and hopes to go on to medical school.

Still to come this summer, Margot Myers will teach “College: What to Expect—and Not!” from 1 to 4 p.m. June 27 and 28. 

Myers, the program manager for TRiO Student Support Services at Pitt-Bradford, will cover such issues as living with a roommate, what college assignments are like, time management, syllabuses, and what clubs to join.

From 9 a.m. to noon July 16 and 17, Jeff Guterman, associate professor of communications, will hold “Television Studio Production.” Students will learn about the roles both behind and in front of the camera in a real-life, multi-camera digital studio as they create news broadcasts, interviews and other types of programs.

“These courses were initiated partly as a response to cuts in state funding for high school enrichment programs such as the Seneca Highlands Summer Academy and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Schools,” Yaich said. “Some of the topics are not necessarily covered in a typical high school curriculum, so it offers a chance for students to explore new areas of study.”

Students who have completed grade 9 through grade 12 may still register for the upcoming courses. The cost for each course is $59. Class sizes are limited. For more information or to register, contact Pitt-Bradford continuing education at (814)362-5078 or contined@pitt.edu.

For disability-related needs, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at (814)362-7609 or clh71@pitt.edu.

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