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NIAAA Newsletter

Students from the Jeter’s Leaders Program visit NIAAA

Photo of participant

NIAAA’s 10-year collaboration with the Jeter’s Leaders Program continued this past July when more than 100 students visited the Institute—the largest group yet.

Founded by New York Yankees team captain Derek Jeter, Jeter’s Leaders is a youth development program that seeks to instill the value of leadership and mentors high school students to encourage healthy lifestyles for them and their broader communities.

NIAAA staff presented the students with a hands-on learning experience about alcohol and its effects and talked to them about careers in science. 

Hosted by NIAAA’s Fred Donodeo, activities included meeting NIAAA staff and visiting its laboratories. For example, the students visited the laboratory of Dr. Fumihito Ono and learned about the important role that zebra fish play in alcohol research. Dr. Ono led several hands-on interactive activities to show what it is like to work in a lab.

Dr. Judith Arroyo gave a bilingual presentation about health science research and people of color working in the field, offering encouragement and career advice. The group also had a chance to learn about underage drinking, college drinking, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Dr. Dan Falk fielded the students’ questions about alcohol, treatment, and recovery and worked with the kids to develop their own short messages about alcohol and adolescence, based on NIAAA information and their own experiences, and present them on camera.

NIAAA also invited outside scientists to augment the day’s activities. Dr. Dennis Twombly of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) brought a “Drunken Brain” exhibit for the students, and Dr. Archie Fobbs, Curator of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, brought brain specimens from the world’s largest collection. Students screamed in horror and delight as they passed around a preserved human brain while learning about neuroscience and the human nervous system.    

Mr. Donodeo emphasized how visits like this can inspire young people to someday become doctors and scientists. Donodeo said, “by interacting with our PhDs and health professionals, the students can gain a new perspective as they think about college majors and their future.”