AP Biology students hear Dr. Sam Rhine talk about cancer

AP Biology students attend a genetics lecture on Feb. 5 at the Civics Center in Richardson. The RISD sponsors Sam Rhine to speak with students every year.

Genetics educator Sam Rhine is a professor at Indiana University Bloomington during the summer and travels during the school year to teach genetics. This year marked the seventh year for Pearce AP Biology teacher Matthew Fields’ attendance.

“Every once in a while it seems like it is the same from year to year, and then sometimes it is different,” Mr. Fields said. “It kind of depends on the discoveries and what is found or discovered each specific year.”

Dr. Rhine, who studied at Harvard Medical School for his postdoctoral fellowship, focused on oncology concepts and taught the students about what is to come in the treatment of cancer.

“We will never ever be able to stop cancer from happening,” Dr. Rhine said. “Stop cancer from killing people? Yes.”

The material he discussed was an extended and up-to-date viewpoint on the material AP Biology students learn in class. This includes information on stem cells, cell division and genetic engineering.

“It helps to make the class even more relevant I think,” Mr. Fields said. “When you see his explanations, you realize that a lot of these discoveries were science fiction 20 years ago and will actually be a very strong reality for us soon.”

Dr. Rhine has traveled around the world to give these genetic lectures for over 25 years and each year he describes the latest discoveries and advancements related to genetics.

“Mr. Fields hyped it up, and rightfully so,” AP Biology student Nicole Picquet said. “It was very interesting, but it was completely different. I didn’t expect a college lecture.”

When discussing the event with his students in the weeks prior, Mr. Fields referred to it as a genetics “concert” rather than a lecture.

“Our teacher prepared us really well for the concert so we were not confused and understood everything the professor was saying,” Nicole said. “The most interesting thing to me was the end where he talked about the new types of biotechnology such as the production of synthetic skin, ears and organs.”

The lecture cost $15 for each student and it lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It was definitely worth my time,” Nicole said. “I really enjoyed the lecture and solidified my decision in pursuing biomedical engineering.”

Students learned how tumors are formed, what will replace organ implants in the near future and that 95 percent of cancers are not inheritable.

“I did not know what to expect from the concert, but what we learned surpassed any expectations,” AP Biology student Clipp McKeen said. “I pretty much lost my mind.”

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