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Undergrads & International Experts Collaborate on Stem Cell Tourism and Gene Editing

Trent students moderate New England Journal of Medicine panel discussion

Three Trent students recently benefited from an unparalleled hands-on learning opportunity.

Gordon Martin, Elyse Wakeford, and Adam Ryan participated as moderators for an international online forum focused on a perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled On the Road (to a Cure?) — Stem-Cell Tourism and Lessons for Gene Editing.

"As moderators, it was our job to keep the discussion flowing," explained Ms. Wakeford, a fourth-year Biology student. "We followed the discussion and posed relevant questions to the experts surrounding important issues provoked by the article."

The ten-day online discussion hosted by the NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine) Group featured a panel of internationally-renowned experts in law, bioethics, and stem cell research, including Dr. Kalina Kamenova, a professor in Trent's Bachelor of Arts and Science program—a program designed for students who are fascinated by both the arts and the sciences. The three students who participated in the project are members of Dr. Kamenova's course Advanced Topics in Biomedical Ethics.

"I think the online panel was a great way to engage students in bio-ethical deliberations on cutting-edge biomedical research that took place in a highly popular and prestigious academic forum," Dr. Kamenova said.

Reflecting on the experience, Mr. Martin, a fourth-year Philosophy student, said "I appreciated being part of a dynamic conversation with heavyweight intellectuals regarding biomedical ethics."

Mr. Ryan, a fourth-year Philosophy student, described his participation as a positive experience that took theory out of the classroom. "It was great to see philosophy and ethics being discussed for an important and practical application," he said.

All agreed that their participation in the forum was a unique learning opportunity that is indicative of the enhanced educational experiences that Trent provides.

"It helped develop my critical thinking of the current issues surrounding transnational stem cell research as well as the ethical challenges of human gene editing," Ms. Wakeford said.

Mr. Ryan, who is planning to enter law school, said "It was helpful to see how policy is structured and thought about beforehand, because I may get into policy."

"The biomedical conversation is yet another example of the multiplicity of ways a Trent student can tap into high level content and high-ranking individuals," Mr. Martin said. "We are deeply privileged to have access to new experiences at Trent."

Posted on March 29, 2016