Elaine Han woke up one day suddenly realizing opportunities were almost non-existent for locally-based health science research.
The Grade 12 student at Port Moody Secondary says she's passionate in pursuing a career in the field, but had to "travel long distances" and "pay expensive fees" just to gain experience ahead of her final years of school.
In response, Han and several other students decided to start their own initiative to give Tri-Cities high-schoolers the chance to raise their voices across the broader scientific community.
And now, what started as a virtual competition and conference with healthcare professionals from across the continent earlier this year is a published book with 12 youthful innovations for all to read.
"I was surprised to see how exclusive the scientific community was," Han tells the Tri-City News, while also hoping the 70-page book can inspire the next generation of health science professionals.
"Since there were no opportunities available, I wanted to create opportunities for students like me who are struggling with getting their ideas heard by the scientific community."
As is most cases with 16- and 17-year-olds, planning for the future ahead of graduation can be a tall order — especially when your dream job might require long commutes and out-of-town internships.
Last summer, Han brainstormed a Tri-Cities-led virtual symposium for like-minded high-school students to hear from healthcare workers at the top of their respective fields and/or from certified universities, as well as a friendly competition in presenting innovate solutions that would be published in a book for all to read.
Together with other students, they hosted MedVenture on Jan. 22, 2022, after securing $1,000 in sponsorship funds — a short six months after sparking the idea — and was said to be western Canada's first competition-based health science conference.
"We connected youth from all over the world through this free, virtual experience," adds Han.
She says the keynote speakers also served as the judges for the problem-solving contest, which focused on topics like:
- Medical Innovation
- Medical spelling
- Behavioral health
- Medical laws and ethics
- Community awareness
- Biomedical debate
Twelve projects from the conference are now published in MedVenture's inaugural book, entitled Spotlight on Young Innovators: Pathway to Precision Medicine.
Han hopes the book can inspire potentially more young minds to step up as healthcare workers will always be needed, especially those with a curious eye for STEM-related opportunities [science, technology, engineering and math].
"If you can spread the word to the local community, more high schoolers like me will be able to get their innovative ideas heard by the public," she says.
"In joining our efforts, you are investing your time and energy into the education and advancement of the next generation of healthcare leaders."
Right now, it's unclear if a second MedVenture conference is in the works.
It's book was co-authored by Han, Archit Garg, Sophie He, Reeva Khokhar and Daniel Zhang.
You can purchase Spotlight on Young Innovators on Amazon.
Speakers at the virtual MedVenture conference included:
- Dr. Michael Conboy
- Researcher at University of California-Berkeley
- Dr. Kathryn Ko
- Neurosurgeon in New York City
- Dr. Nicole Look Hong
- General surgeon at Sunnybrook Hospital (Toronto)
- Monique Seager
- Dual-degree MD/MBA candidate at UPenn Medical School and Wharton Business School (Philadelphia)