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Patrick Varine
Jazmyn Charles was chosen as a member of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, which will meet in Washington, D.C., later this month.

Jazmyn Charles wants to find a cure for the multiple sclerosis that affects her father.

The 17-year-old Franklin Regional High School senior has quite a way to go, but as a recent addition to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, she is on the right path.

Charles discovered a passion for genetics during a freshman-year honors biology class.

“I realized that I really liked doing research and wanted to pursue it as a career,” she said.

Next week, Charles will travel to Washington, D.C., where she will have a chance to hear speakers including National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins; the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, Dr. Ferid Murad; the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, Sir Richard Roberts; the Georgetown University dean for medical education Dr. Stephen Ray Mitchell; and others.

She also will hear from Carmen Tarleton, recipient of one of the world’s first full-face transplants, as well as contemporaries her own age including 17-year-old Jack Andraka, winner of the 2012 Intel Science Fair, who created a new diagnostic test that not only is faster, less expensive and more accurate than the current pancreatic-cancer test but also works to identify ovarian and lung cancer.

“I’ll be listening to speeches from major medical leaders, and I will be able to interact with people who have the same passions as me,” she said.

Charles’ hope is to work in biomedical research.

“My dream college is Johns Hopkins University,” she said. “I hope to major in molecular biology and minor in neuroscience.”

This summer, she interned at Magee-Womens Hospital’s Research Institute. She also has volunteered at both UPMC Shadyside as a greeter and UPMC East’s emergency room, where she assisted with supplies.

At the congress, she’ll have a chance to hear about new medical breakthroughs and witness a surgery being performed.

The congress is part of The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, a for-profit company that hosts a number of conferences in the medical field. Its philosophy is to identify students who wish to “devote their lives to the service of humanity.”

Charles would like to live out that philosophy by finding a cure for her father’s illness, she said, “but most importantly, conducting my own research could help to solve other medical mysteries.”

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 or [email protected].

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