Everyday our environment and our bodies are exposed to a staggering number of xenobiotic, or foreign, compounds. Some compounds are toxic products of industrial materials, while others are designed to be pharmacologically advantageous. In this course, we will introduce students to the current understanding of many well-known toxicants, including PFAS, asbestos, lead, BPA and more. By delving into real-world examples, such as the Flint Water Crisis and vaping, we will highlight the biological and environmental effects of chemical exposures. In the second half of the course, students will apply their knowledge to critically assess mechanisms of toxicity, as well as learn practical experimental approaches to study the effects of exposure, at both the organ system and molecular levels. Integrated applied labs will introduce students to cutting-edge techniques, including in vivo modeling, microscopy, and image analysis. These techniques are used by toxicologists and pharmacologists to understand mechanisms of toxicity, enabling them to answer pressing scientific questions.
Novel and practical approaches to science and medicine will be at the forefront of our discussions. This course is less detail-oriented, as it is more about scientific creativity and research approaches that answer important questions in medical, scientific, and engineering fields. These course discussion points provide students with basic knowledge applicable to clinical and basic research, providing a foundation for students interested in any scientific or medical fields.
Through the Academic Project, students research a drug or toxicant of choice, its mechanism of toxicity, and implications on human health. They will develop their own relevant research plan to explore the adverse health impacts and potential intervening treatments. This project takes the form of an informal grant project proposal, providing students with a tangible document containing their scientific goals and introducing them to the process of scientific writing.
Successful completion of this course will introduce students to scientific reading, writing, and critical evaluation, skills utilized in college courses in all fields. Development of their own toxicology research plan as the final project requires students to collaborate, be creative, and ask their own questions and set goals, which are skills valued by college professors and students alike.
Prerequisites: Recent coursework in biology would be beneficial, but is not mandatory. The course will focus heavily on biology and anatomy/histology, with some biomedical engineering or chemistry concepts, but students will be introduced to these topics as they are discussed. Students are not expected to have a background in these fields, but interest in them is appreciated.
STEM for Rising 9th and 10th Graders
Two-week, non-credit residential program focused on STEM subjects and taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 8-9 by June 2020; minimum age of 14 and maximum age of 15 by the start of the program.Visit Program Page Information Sessions Learn How to Apply