Scientists Open Laboratories To 1st Grade Students Of The School Of Columbia University

Students Learn About Mouse Research and DNA

NEW YORK – (May 12, 2008) First-grade students from The School at Columbia University recently visited several science laboratories at Columbia University Medical Center (see photos below; additional high-resolution photos available upon request).

Captions: Left: The first-graders wear lab coats and gloves, as they head to Dr. Guarrera’s lab.

Right: The students use a microscope to examine specimens in Dr. Guarrera’s lab

Photos taken by: Eliza Chung, 1st Grade Teacher at The School at Columbia University.

The first-graders (52 students in three classes) and their teachers convened at the medical center’s Irving Cancer Research Center on 166th St. and St. Nicholas Ave. in Washington Heights.

The students then gowned-up in lab coats and gloves, and proceeded to the laboratory of James V. Guarrera, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery, where they learned about transplant surgery.

Next they visited to the laboratories of Cory Abate-Shen, Ph.D., professor and director of research, Department of Urology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Michael M. Shen, Ph.D., professor of medicine (oncology) at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, where they learned about mouse development from Dr. Shen and about DNA from Dr. Abate-Shen. Each child had a chance to look at mouse embryos and visualize DNA using UV light.

The day was organized by three faculty members with children in first grade at the school. Husband and wife research-scientists, Drs. Abate-Shen and Shen have twin boys in the grade. They were recruited from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to Columbia University Medical Center this fall and enrollment for their children at The School was part of what drew them to Columbia. James Guarrera also has a daughter in the first-grade class. He was recruited to Columbia last year as well.

“The day was very exciting and educational, both for us and the students,” said Dr. Abate-Shen. “For Michael and me, sharing our knowledge with the kids was our way of participating in the school’s philosophy of giving back to the community.”

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The School at Columbia University opened its doors on Sept. 17, 2003 to 200 students from kindergarten through fourth grade. By the year 2006, the school had grown to be K-8 with approximately 500 students. Faculty and staff of the school come from as far as Singapore and Brazil, and are formerly from other prestigious schools across New York City.

The plan for the school originated in March of 2000, with a unanimous vote from the Columbia University Board of Trustees to create a school for children under the sponsorship and direction of the University. The decision had prestigious precedents. At the beginning of the last century, Columbia sponsored the Lincoln School, the Speyer School, and the Horace Mann School – each having an important impact on this country's pre-collegiate schooling.

Now perhaps the most socially and economically diverse school in New York City, the school offers admission to children in school districts 3 and 5 through a random lottery, as well as to the children of employees of Columbia University and Columbia University Medical Center.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree. Among the most selective medical schools in the country, the school is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York State and one of the largest in the country. For more information, please visit


Abate Shen, Columbia University, DNA, New York City