Identified as one of the healthiest groups on the planet by Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner[i], Seventh-day Adventists have long been known for promoting a healthy lifestyle. Four Adventist young people and an Adventist researcher will soon share the science behind this lifestyle in one of the most prestigious academic settings in the world.
Dr. Eddie Ramirez, Director of Research at Nedley Clinic, and four students from Weimar Institute in Weimar, California, were recently chosen to present their research at the Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) New England Science Symposium (NESS) on April 8.
“Harvard is one of the world's leading institutions and to be able to participate in the presentation of these research projects is a great privilege."
The symposium, an annual event in its seventeen year, is considered a showcase for health and bio-medical research with potential for future impact.[ii] Professionals such as Ramirez are encouraged to apply for the extremely limited oral presentation spots, one of which was awarded to Ramirez this year.
College, medical and graduate students as well as post-baccalaureates and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to apply for the poster presentations based on research abstracts. Poster presentations involve students standing by an assigned white board containing pages of their research abstracts. The students will present information about the research and/or answer questions as attendees stop by each white board during the two hour poster presentation time.
The four Adventists chosen are all pre-medical students in the Natural Sciences Bachelor of Science program at Weimar Institute.
They include senior Lance Hofer-Draper, sophomore Monica Fukuda, sophomore Camille Krueger and junior Johanna Emerson. According to Ramirez, their research documents “how lifestyle interventions can help deal with common health problems such as heart disease and depression.”
Ramirez, as the Weimar Institute research methods professor and NEWSTART lifestyle program researcher, encourages his students to not only research well but to submit their abstracts for events such as the symposium. Previously, two other Weimar Institute students were chosen as poster presenters with Hofer-Draper as one of them in 2016.
Ramirez was also chosen as a poster presenter in 2016. Weimar Institute did not apply in 2017 because the symposium was on Saturday, the Adventist day of worship, last year.
While 2018 statistics were not available at the time of this article, 12 oral presenters and 188 poster presenters were chosen out of 310 applicants in 2017. The 2018 statistics are expected to be similar.
The significance of this is not lost on Ramirez. “Harvard is one of the world's leading institutions and to be able to participate in the presentation of these research projects is a great privilege. The fact that four students were accepted speaks very well of the quality of research that is taking place at Weimar.”
Neil Nedley, a physician and Weimar Institute president, adds, “We are so proud of these Weimar students, but also proud of one of the many unique aspects of Weimar higher education: Providing students the tools to communicate with the highest levels of researchers in the world. In addition, they will now be able to further communicate in numerous ways through continued further research to make a difference in the world of health and medicine for the rest of their lives.”
NESS is co-sponsored by the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership (DICP) and the Biomedical Science Careers Program (BSCP).
Weimar Institute[iii] is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It offers an associate's degree in nursing, and Bachelor of Science or Arts degrees in Business Administration, Christian Education, Natural Sciences, and Religion. The Natural Sciences tracks include pre-nursing, pre-dentistry, pre-medicine, pre-physical therapy and pre-physician’s assistant. Its 2017 nursing class had a 100% passing rate on the NCLEX while previous pre-medicine graduates have gone on to attend Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine.
Weimar Institute also operates an elementary school, high school, veganic farm, health food store, and the NEWSTART lifestyle program[iv]. Additionally, it hosts the Nedley Anxiety & Depression Recovery program[v].
[i] Dan Buettner, (2008). Loma Linda, California: A community living ten years longer. https://bluezones.com/exploration/loma-linda-california/