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September 22, 2000
Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639–3286

CDC Gets Advice From Teens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) often relies on world-renowned scientists and academics for advice on how to improve the nation’s health. On September 26, 2000 CDC director Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH, will welcome South Dakota high school students Clarissa Barnes and Meghan Storm to his office to learn how CDC can increase student interest in science.

"I decided very young that I would become a doctor because I was so inspired by my pediatrician. Now, I want to find ways to inspire more young people to become involved in the fascinating world of science. I hope this meeting will assist in doing that," Dr. Koplan said.

"This will be my first exposure to an operation involving a partnership between the government and the scientific community. I have no idea what to expect and I’m very anxious to learn how things operate at CDC," said student Megan Storm.

Clarissa Barnes and Meghan Storm are the winners of the Disease Detectives event of the 2000 National Science Olympiad, a competition sponsored by the Science Olympiad, a non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education and increasing student interest in science. The Disease Detective event required students to use applied principles of epidemiology in response to a published report of a real-life health situation. Their assigned scenario was based upon the Nipah virus outbreak in Singapore and Malaysia in 1999. The students used scientific reasoning skills, a quantitative view of risks, survey methods to study opinions, behaviors, or other aspects of populations, and interdisciplinary links between medicine, statistics, and laboratory sciences.

The team from Yankton High School accompanied by their coach Dr. Robert Medick and Science Olympiad President Dr. Gerard Putz will visit CDC in Atlanta on September 26, 2000. The students will be presented with an award by CDC Director Koplan. The students will tour CDC facilities, including the exterior of the Bio-Level 4 laboratories, where scientists in maximum containment suits study highly infectious and deadly diseases like Ebola and hantavirus. They will have the opportunity to meet the real-life Nipah virus epidemiologists that investigated the outbreak of Nipah virus that their competition scenario was based upon.

"I am looking forward to meeting the epidemiologists who work at the CDC. I believe I have much to learn from those who have studied firsthand what I have only read about," said Clarissa Barnes.

"We're thrilled that South Dakota students took the top honors in the Disease Detectives portion of the Science Olympiad," said South Dakota Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth. "They've demonstrated an interest in science and epidemiology that speaks well for the future of public health in this state."

For more information about the many ways CDC strives to promote education and excitement about public health and epidemiology go to http://www.cdc.gov/excite/index.htm.

For more information about the Disease Detectives event, its rules, and study aids go to http://www.cdc.gov/excite/olympiad.htm.

For more information about the 1999 outbreak of Nipa virus in Singapore and Malaysia go to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00057012.htm.

For more information about the Science Olympiad go to http://www.soinc.org/.


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