Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Researcher Challenges Students to Consider a Biomedical Career

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Researcher Challenges Students to Consider a Biomedical Career

Article excerpt

It looked as if Audrey Armstrong was losing her audience.

Armstrong stood last week before 115 students in the auditorium

of Raines High School, discussing her career in veterinary

medicine and biomedical research.

The kids were quiet, but there were a lot of chins on knuckles

and bored looks.

That's OK, Armstrong said. She didn't expect to reach

everybody.

"I think there were a few kids I reached," she said.

And that was the point of Armstrong's Jacksonville visit last

week. She stopped at Raines and Ribault high schools and

Darnell-Cookman Middle School to get at least a few students --

particularly African-Americans -- to consider careers in

biomedical research.

Her tour was sponsored by Pharmaceutical Research and

Manufacturers Association of America (PhRMA), a trade group

representing drug manufacturers and biotechnology companies,

including Armstrong's employer, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Armstrong and three other respected African-American

researchers are appearing at grade schools in selected U.S.

cities as part of Black History Month, said Jim Miller, a PhRMA

spokesman.

"This is the first time that we've done this," Miller said.

"This is all new ground to us."

"The purpose is to show that people of color have worked hard

and accomplished a lot, not only in the pharmaceutical industry

but in research," said Armstrong, who co-authored a noted paper

on Lyme disease during her postdoctoral work at Yale University.

"The key is perseverance," she added. That's what got her

through.

Armstrong was raised in a middle-income family, the daughter of

an Army medic. She spent her late childhood near Jackson, Miss.,

and fell in love with veterinary science after her father

introduced her to a veterinarian there.

The vet let her do odd jobs at the animal clinic, and she

learned about caring for animals. After high school she went to

Tougaloo College just north of Jackson, which is roughly the

same age and size as Jacksonville's Edward Waters College. …

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