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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2005




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Biomedical graduate council helps Detroit students

There was no running water in this Detroit high school science lab, or proper chemicals for experiments. So some concerned U-M graduate students got busy.

The Biomedical Graduate Student Council (GSC) at the Medical School for two years has raised money and secured donated equipment to benefit Detroit Community High School (DCHS) on Grandville in northeast Detroit.

A fundraiser April 19 at the Arena Sports Bar in Ann Arbor drew 175 GSC supporters to sample free food and participate in a raffle of gift certificates from restaurants including Seva, Pacific Rim, The Earl and Webber's, and other prizes including an iPod. The event raised $861 for a fund-raising total this year of $2,861, up from last year's $1,551.

The effort to help the charter school was sparked by Michelle Boyle, who began teaching English in fall 2003 after earning her master of arts degree at U-M.

"She said the only type of chemicals they had were from the grocery store; they had no incubators or heating plates," says Chris Pacheco, a third-year GSC student pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience. "That's when I decided to bring DCHS's plight to the GSC."

The group secured donations from Pfizer and Assay Designs, and Corning donated $750 in lab glassware. Fisher Scientific and VWR Scientific Products also plan to donate equipment.

"We have certainly come a long way since your last contribution to our science department," says Tameka Gaddis, science coordinator at the school. "However, there are still many more science lab items that we need in order to give our students proper experience with and exposure to hands-on scientific experimentation."

"We went to DCHS about a month ago to talk to the students about what we do here at U-M and what Ph.D's in science do," Pacheco says. "They had a ton of great questions.

"While we were there, I got to check out some of their science labs," Pacheco recalls. The school is situated in an old elementary school; a basketball game was being played in the cafeteria. "The science labs were pretty dismal," he says.

GSC member Melissa Tippens heads the subcommittee that collects donations for the school. "She has done an unbelievable job, getting Corning to donate beakers and other scientific materials," Pacheco says.

GSC students also judged the school's science fair April 20. "Over the summer, DCHS will be moving to a new building, and will actually have a science lab," Pacheco says. "We are hoping to aid in the setup and organization of that lab space."

The GSC is comprised of 30 members who meet monthly and perform a range of services, including mentoring first-year students, judging local science fairs, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

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