North Dakota Students & North Carolina State Attempt to Make His - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

North Dakota Students & North Carolina State Attempt to Make History Together

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"Maybe you're not diabetic, but you need something to help you break down starch and help digest and move things, move things along," says the instructor at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.

That "something" might just be discovered right here, right now, by these North Dakota high school students participating in summer camp at United Tribes Technical College in partnership with North Carolina State University.  "They're doing experiments on plants, which may have never been looked at scientifically before.  They are making discoveries on the antioxidant capacity, on the anti-diabetic capacity of plants," says Mary Ann Lila, Ph.D., Director, Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University.
And you never know what plant might contain that certain "something" -- even the cure for cancer.  These science-loving students are giving up part of their summer vacation to find out.  "I really enjoy science and working with chemicals.  It's amazing," says Kari Burcham, who's going to be a Senior at Mandan High School.

Tribal elders took students into the field to collect plants traditionally used for medicine.  If something is promising, they'll know within hours.  "If we have a hit here in the field, in North Dakota, how would we further elucidate that, how would we further make discoveries in the laboratory, to perhaps, bring it to pharmaceutical readiness for a pharmaceutical company?  How could it become the next best discovery from North Dakota?," notes Dr. Lila.

These students can actually be a part of all those things.  Plus, there could be an additional pay-off.  Dr. Lila notes, "all the intellectual property, any rights, any profit would stay with United Tribes Technical College and these students."  

"It's really exciting, actually.  I hope our research is being used," says Kari Burcham.

Some of these students will be traveling to North Carolina State University to further develop promising results.  United Tribes Technical College hosts the STEM camp every year, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  If you'd like to learn more for next summer, contact the Tribal Environmental Science Department.


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