Iowa Educators Prepare to Teach High School Students How Medicines Are Made

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 General News
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FORT DODGE, Iowa, June 24 Weather-related challengesdidn't prevent biology and chemistry teachers from more than 20 schooldistricts throughout the state of Iowa from attending a three-day summerinstitute in Fort Dodge focusing on the pharmaceutical research anddevelopment process. They are participating in the first-ever "Summer ScienceTeachers Institute - RxeSEARCH, an Educational Journey," hosted by IowaCentral Community College.

Thirty teachers are working with local, state and national educators andrepresentatives from the pharmaceutical industry, studying an 11-lesson R&Dcurriculum at the professional development program which runs from June 24 to26. Des Moines University, the Iowa Department of Economic Development andFort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth, are also sponsoring theprogram.

Educators are preparing to teach the R&D process that starts with thespark of an idea for a new medicine, moves through research and development,clinical trials and regulatory hurdles and ultimately delivers a new medicineto patients in need. Following the Summer Institute, which is atrain-the-trainer session, teachers in participating school districts willroll out the curriculum to their students in the upcoming school year.

"When teachers take this program to the classroom, it will allow studentsto explore and solve realistic problems in science, using an inquiry-basededucational approach," said Jim Kersten, Associate Vice President ofDevelopment and Government Relations at Iowa Central Community College. "Itwill give students an understanding of how science learned in school isapplied in a science-based industry. It will also help them get ready for theworld of work."

"RxeSEARCH will teach students about the complex and challengingpharmaceutical research and development process. It will expose futurescientists to career opportunities and demystify the process that brings drugsto patients," said Tom Berry, Senior Vice President for Global Manufacturingat Fort Dodge Animal Health.

The program was developed by the National Science Resources Center, anaffiliate science education center of excellence of the SmithsonianInstitution and the National Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with thepharmaceutical industry and a team of working high school teachers inMontgomery Township and Newark, NJ, schools. It is now being used by educatorsin five states including New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania andIowa.

This is the second year of involvement by Iowa Central Community Collegeand Humboldt High School of Humboldt, IA. Representatives from the college andhigh school who participated in last year's Summer Institute in New Jersey,implemented the program during the just-ended school year, and now are helpinglead Iowa's first RxeSEARCH Summer Institute.

"With the help of Fort Dodge Animal Health, Iowa Central Community Collegeinvited master teachers from New Jersey to present the curriculum this week inFort Dodge," said Kersten. He noted Iowa Central has strong local partnershipswith 28 high schools in nine counties. Recently the college promoted an $18million bond issue, passed by the voters in 2007, which funds programs inscience and math, among other subject areas. "This is a perfect outgrowth ofthat effort," Kersten said.

For Fort Dodge Animal Health, workforce development is criticallyimportant to the pharmaceutical industry's ability to provide new medicines toaddress animal and human health problems. Berry, who initially proposed apartnership between Fort Dodge and Iowa Central Community College, said, "Theshortage of trained technical workers is a critical issue for companies.Programs like RxeSEARCH enable us to reach out to high school students forworkforce development."

During the three-day session, teachers will become familiar with theRxeSEARCH curriculum that uses a fictiona

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