Eighteen Los Angeles-area students are preparing for an August trip to the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda Md., where they will join dozens of other future scientists and doctors from across the nation as part of the STEP UP High School Program.

The five-day visit marks the culmination of an eight-week program during which the students work on scientific research projects under the careful tutelage of experienced mentors. At the NIH headquarters, the students will present their research findings, tour the campus and receive information about careers in science.

 “We are proud of the impact they have made in the field of medicine, science and research,” said Emma Taylor, project coordinator for the National High School Student Summer Research Apprentice Program at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science. “It is wonderful to see students move ahead into fields that are so much in need.”

As part of the preparation for the journey to the National Institutes of Health, Taylor and program assistant Ashley Terrell took the students to visit the CDU laboratory of Dr. Jay Vadgama, chief of the university’s Division of Cancer Research and Training and a program mentor.

Dr. Vadgama gave the students a brief lecture on the link between Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes.

Students participating in the STEP UP program are: Marbella Allen; Teni Ayo-Ariyo; Kathy Benavides; Karina Cervantes; Valeria Coreas; Guadalupe Gomez; Jessica Gonzalez; Brittney Hawkins; Nicoyia Hurt; Melissa Montoya; Diana Ortiz; Kaneca Pompey; Ayana Powell; Chabre Thompson; Nadia Tsado; Jazmin Valdovinos; Maria Valenzuela; and Brittany Wilhite.