Science guest lecture explores immunotherapy treatments


Veronica Roseborough

Each quarter, Carlmont holds a guest lecture by scientists with a passion for sharing their area of expertise and inspiring students in science.

Science guest lectures at Carlmont’s Performing Arts Center allow the community to learn more about science and give students the opportunity to consider different careers in the field.

Jaime Abdilla, a teacher at Carlmont, said, “These science lectures were a way to bring science to the community, and this is supposed to be a community-wide event, so we’re opening our doors to our neighbors although it has evolved to be more of a student-centered event.”

Carlmont’s Science Lecture Series hosts a special guest to talk about their area of scientific expertise and career once every quarter. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Dr. Darren Ji, founder of Elpiscience Biopharma, a company focused on creating immunotherapies for cancer, educated the audience about how his company works to treat disease and his journey as an entrepreneur.

Immunotherapy is a treatment similar to chemotherapy that helps to treat cancer. There are three types of immunotherapy: immune checkpoint modulators, cancer cell therapy, and oncolytic virus. Otherwise known as biologic therapy, immunotherapy fights cancer by boosting the body’s natural defenses. 

Abdilla said, “I think the lectures tie into a lot of what the students are learning in class about the immune system and cancer treatments.”

This lecture, in particular, was especially beneficial to students in biology learning about the immune system because many of their class discussions address disease treatments or other health-related matters.

Teachers like Felix Gandara-Guzman, Tyler Kochel, and Melissa Hero encourage their students to attend these events, whether it be to gain new knowledge or even extra credit. Students attending the event receive a paper to take notes on during the lecture. Then, if they’ve filled out the paper a teacher supervising the lecture stamps their paper after the lecture.

“People come to the lectures for extra credit or to learn, so there is a little something for everyone,” said Gabriella Lee, a sophomore.

Students who plan to go into a science-related field or want to learn more about a career in science also benefit from these lectures. 

Jennifer Yu, a sophomore, said, “The lectures help [students] to understand what a career path in science would be like.”

So far this school year, three guest speakers have spoken: Laurie Hill, Diego Rey, and Dr. Darren Ji. The final lecture for this semester will be held on March 11, 2020.