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2005-06 Competition

About the 2005-06 Competition

Sixty students from 26 states present their research in the 3rd annual YES Competition

Sixty students from 26 states present their research in the 3rd annual YES CompetitionForty-four high school seniors and 16 juniors arrived in Washington, D.C. April 21, 2006, to compete in the 2005-06 Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition. All 60 students received college scholarships ranging from $2,000 to the top prize of $50,000.

The 60 students were selected from nearly 700 who submitted research papers applying epidemiological methods of analysis to examine a population-based health problem. In only its third year, the YES Competition received submissions from students in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. The topics were equally as diverse—examining important issues such as the prevalence of undiagnosed asthma, the effects of parental acceptance of teenage alcohol use, breast cancer in young women, adolescent obesity, HIV/AIDS, Avian Flu, and atypical visual behaviors as early indicators of autism.

The students presented their research and responded to questions from panels of judges who are nationally recognized epidemiologists, health officials, and teachers. Liz Baker, University High School in Tucson, AZ, remarked, "What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to present my research to the best experts in the field. They truly were the nation's finest minds, each representing an aspect of the research process." And the judges felt equally as impressed with the students. Dr. Lisa Berkman, Harvard School of Public Health, noted, "This year's group of projects is totally amazing. It just seems like it gets better every year."

The weekend included the opportunity to hear from leading epidemiologists such as Dr. William H. Foege, Emory University Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Gates Foundation Fellow, who drove the international effort to eradicate smallpox. Dr. Harvey Fineberg and Dr. Michael McGinnis, Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, also addressed the students. It was not all work as the students enjoyed good food, made new friendships, and toured the nation's capital.

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board, the YES Competition awards nearly $460,000 a year to 120 students. "We live in a world where new diseases are emerging, such as SARS, while many old diseases are regaining a foothold, like tuberculosis. On a daily basis, we face multiple public health threats that include tobacco use and exposure, obesity, and asthma. We will soon be looking to a new generation of epidemiologists to take up these challenges, and the YES Competition is designed to give students the opportunity to explore the possibility of being one of those leaders," said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.