Science has intrigued Henry Cheung since he was a child. Now 17, he wants to pursue it as a career, and is getting a good start with his selection to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Partners for the Future program.
The Seaford High School senior was one of only 13 students from across Long Island chosen to participate in the program, which exposes aspiring scientists to real medical research. It began in September and runs through March. Cheung is at the Egeblad Laboratory every Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.
He has no daily routine, he said, and spent the first few weeks getting acclimated to the lab. Some days he works on experiments, and other times he scans and analyzes slides. He has learned research techniques and how to design experiments. The atmosphere, he said, is very positive, inviting and friendly.
His mentor there is Dr. Mario Shields. Cheung is helping Shields with his study of pancreatic tumors. Specifically, they are researching how the LOX protein affects cancer progression. “I’m actually helping him as he does it,” Cheung said. When the program ends, there will be a seminar, at which he will make a presentation about the work he has been doing.
This is not his first time in a laboratory setting. Over the summer he did research at the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center. In a paid eight-week, 40-hour-per-week internship, Cheung studied kidney cancer. The program, he said, was designed to expose students to the scientific research process.
Janine Cupo, one of his science teachers at Seaford, said that when Cheung returned to school in September, he shared his Sloane Kettering experiences. “He was very excited about all that he learned,” Cupo said.
She added that his latest assignment at Cold Spring is an experience that most high school students don’t get. “Henry has the opportunity to work with scientists in the biotechnology field and carry out original research in the lab,” she said. “Most college students don’t have this opportunity until their upperclassmen years. I believe Henry will benefit immensely from this experience and will take full advantage of all the opportunities it provides him.”