LINCOLN HEIGHTS ( — A leading Alzheimer’s disease researcher is helping inner-city kids use their bright, young minds.

Dr. Roberta Brinton founded the USC Science, Technology and Research (STAR) program, which has led many students to careers in science and medicine.

“The STAR program is the Science, Technology, and Research program that gives high school students at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School the opportunity to learn science by conducting real science,” she said.

Each year, about 20 high school students in their junior or senior year participate in the program, which was founded nearly 30 years ago.

The students are able to walk to USC after school as their campus is just blocks away and work in an actual lab alongside scientists and engineers.

“They are conducting research that is contributing to discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, for cancer, for developmental disorders,” Brinton said.

The students come from underrepresented communities. Most are minorities.

“Growing up in East Los Angeles, everybody would prefer not to be very smart or not to go into science because it’s hard,” said Esmerelda Lugo, a high school senior. “If you’re that one person out of that circle, it’s really hard for you to make friends within that community.”

In the program’s 27-year history, they’ve had more than 600 students come through each of whom have gone on to a four-year college.

“They go on to Stanford, Columbia, to Harvard, to Princeton, and Yale,” Brinton said.


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