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After 30 years, summer fellowship program still inspires young students

What was big in 1969 may be not-so-big today. The Age of Aquarius is over, the Beatles are defunct and the Beach Boys are the stuff of cable TV documentaries.

But what began as a small program for high school and college students that year–the Edmondson Summer Fellowship Program–is still encouraging young people to explore medical science in the year 2000.

To date, dozens of program graduates have gone on to contribute to the world through their practice of laboratory science and clinical medicine.

The program began when Hugh Edmondson, chair of pathology at the time, established an endowment and asked fellow pathology professor John W. Parker to develop the effort. The fellowships, lasting eight to 10 weeks, expose young students to a laboratory environment in a medical center, so they can get a better idea of the career they may want to enter.

Parker, now professor emeritus of pathology, continues to direct the program. Linda Tedlock is program coordinator.

About 850 stipends have been handed out to students in the program, Parker said. Typically, about 28 students participate every summer. Less than half are high school students, coming from 98 schools throughout the Los Angeles area (most students come from schools near the Health Sciences Campus.) The majority of the college students have come from Southern California, though some have come from Stanford, Yale and Harvard universities, among others.

Each student works with a faculty member in the laboratory on a small project or on ongoing research. Many students have done enough research to contribute to papers published in peer-reviewed journals, present at meetings or win science awards.

Over the 30 years of the program, 182 medical school faculty–primarily those in pathology–have participated as mentors. Most have mentored one to 10 students, though some have guided 30 students or more. And it’s clear that the students have responded to the guidance.

More than 200 Edmondson Fellows responded to a 1999 survey that asked about their careers. Of these, 76 are practicing M.D.s, five are Ph.D.s or M.D./Ph.D.s, four are doctors of osteopathy, three are lawyers, three became dentists, two received the Pharm.D. degree, nine entered other fields in the health sciences and 18 have received master’s degrees.

Some former Edmondson Fellows have gone on to careers in academic medicine and have become widely recognized leaders in their fields of interest, Parker said.

A few are Keck School faculty members (cardiologist Howard Hodis, director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit and professor of medicine, was an Edmondson Fellow).

And now, Parker said, we are receiving applications from the sons and daughters of former Edmondson Fellows.

For more information on the program, call Linda Tedlock at 442-2920.

After 30 years, summer fellowship program still inspires young students

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