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Life Sciences

Michal Eisikowitz

In a most unlikely place, talented high schoolers from Maryland are getting high-level health research down to a science — and studying how to survive and thrive as frum professionals.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three beskirted girls glided down the corridor, clutching clipboards and laptop cases labeled National Institutes of Health. A female doctor in a white coat walked past, brushing against one student slightly. “Oh my!” the renowned PhD exclaimed. “I am SO sorry. I know you religious girls are careful not to be touched. Please accept my apologies!” She scurried away. “Time to update the cultural awareness sheet,” one of the girls said with a laugh. What are 20 nice, frum girls doing in the world’s premier institution of health research? Each year, 7,000 of the country’s most talented teenagers and college students compete to snag a summer internship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a massive center headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, that invokes the respect of scientists and doctors across the globe. The applicants, many hailing from the nation’s ritziest private academies, boast intimidating résumés: 4.0 GPAs, honors courses, AP credits, summer work experience, and volunteering. Of these uber-kids, however, less than 20 percent are accepted. Yet for the past three years, an unfamiliar breed has joined the fray: 11th and 12th graders from Baltimore’s Bnos Yisroel High School. These girls — bright, motivated, but not nearly as equipped as Stuyvesant’s finest — are enjoying a first-of-its-kind bridge program developed by NIH Core Manager Dr. Daniel Edelman, a Ner Israel Rabbinical College alumnus and valued member of Baltimore’s frum community. How did it happen?

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