Prevention IS the Cure

Right to left at a recent public health fair in Huntington: Whitman senior Karthikeyan (Karthi) Mayilvaganan, his internship partner from Huntington High School, Desislava (Desi) Kirina, and Jordan Roiland offer their findings to interested attendees.
Right to left at a recent public health fair in Huntington: Whitman senior Karthikeyan (Karthi) Mayilvaganan, his internship partner from Huntington High School, Desislava (Desi) Kirina, and Jordan Roiland offer their findings to interested attendees.
“This experience has been incredible, from the work itself to even the little nuances like eating lunch in Central Park, right across the street from my office,” said Jordan Roiland.
“This experience has been incredible, from the work itself to even the little nuances like eating lunch in Central Park, right across the street from my office,” said Jordan Roiland.
Desi Kirina and Jordan Roiland at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Desi Kirina and Jordan Roiland at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Each year, South Huntington Science Chairperson Mr. Marcus Maddy and STEM coach Ms. Mari Scardapane facilitate internship programs for our students that land rising seniors summer internships at prestigious Medical Research Facilities.

Just recently we heard from Christina Bogdani, who completed an intensive 8-week summer research program at Feinstein Institute located at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. We also received word from Desi Kirina and Jordan Roiland about their internships at Mount Sinai Medical Center, also in New York City.

“Desi and I applied for this internship through the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC),” said Jordan.  After an extensive interview, Jordan and Desi were both accepted and got to video-chat with their supervisors at Mount Sinai, Doctor Sarah Evans and Marketing and Communications Associate Megan Markham. “A good part of our summer internship was about how to communicate our findings to the public,” said Desi. “It really expanded my mind because I had never thought about that aspect of a career in the medical field.”

The focus of the research that these two talented seniors were involved in was Preventive Medicine. “New studies show that by eliminating risk factors from our life, by making small changes now, that those small changes have large effects later in life,” said Jordan.  “This mentality asserts that it is easier to prevent illness, than it is to treat it.”  Prevention is the Cure is HBCAC’s motto, and our interns summer project was to research what endocrine disruptors are, and study specific chemicals in our personal care products that are endocrine disruptors.

Over 80,000 chemicals are used in everyday products. We handle them, they’re in our water, in our food and in the air we breathe, and here in America, they have largely been treated as ‘Safe Until Proven Otherwise.’

But there is growing concern that many of these chemicals may be endocrine disruptors that interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.

Throughout their internship Desi and Jordan shared many outstanding experiences, including attending a teacher’s conference on integrating Environmental Health into an East Harlem curriculum, and sitting in on Mount Sinai's Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) meetings.

“Working with the HBCAC group and Mount Sinai really taught me a lot about team work,” said Desi. “Learning effective communication skills in an office environment is really helpful no mater what career I choose.”

The internship experience also gave Jordan some new insights. “I got to explore East Harlem with my group and take photos for a Photovoice project, which empowers youth to have a voice about the problems in their community, using photography,” said Jordan. “This allowed me to explore my artistic side of this internship, while effecting change.”

“This experience has been incredible, from the work itself to even the little nuances like eating lunch in Central Park,” said Jordan. “I have learned a lot, and look forward to presenting our work in the community and at our schools.”

Desi agreed, “just being surrounded by the city environment was really exciting, and working there was really cool to me.  For medical research, it’s a really good place to be.”

 “I am extremely grateful to have had this experience, and look forward to working with Mount Sinai and HBCAC in the future,” Jordan added.