Jared Strecker is a sophomore student at Hampton Bays High School (HBHS) on the east end of Long Island, New York. Like many high school students, Jared enjoys sports and spending time with friends. Unlike his peers, however, he also enjoys spending time researching mesothelioma.
Jared grew up playing baseball on his dad’s little league team, The Pirates, and today he is the catcher for HBHS. He enjoys time spent with family and friends, and he even helps his dad coach the little league team on which he played.
“I believe that family and friends shape the person you become, and I value those relationships,” Jared said.
Jared also has an interest in science, and he began his high school career with a curiosity in the human body and certain diseases. After a rigorous application process, Jared was accepted into the Science Research Program at HBHS.
“I entered my freshman year in the fall of 2015 with an open mind and a passion for science,” Jared said.
The Science Research Program at HBHS is an advanced, intensive four year course in which select students choose a specific scientific topic to research throughout their four years of high school.
After being accepted into the program, Jared became interested in mesothelioma research and chose this as the topic of his four-year project. It was through Assistant Superintendent Denise Sullivan that Jared first heard of mesothelioma and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Denise lost her father to mesothelioma, and she told Jared about the experience and the help she received from the Meso Foundation.
Jared began reading peer-reviewed papers written by mesothelioma doctors and researchers and he felt an immediate passion for the topic. By March of his freshman year, he presented a poster on mesothelioma research at the 3rd Annual Science Research Symposium at HBHS. His poster was based on the article Fibulin-3 as a Blood and Effusion Biomarker for Pleural Mesothelioma by Dr. Harvey Pass, thoracic surgeon and active researcher at NYU Langone.
As a student in the Science Research Program, Jared works under the guidance of Science Research Director Dr. Stephanie Forsberg, but he is also required to work with a mentor in the field he has chosen. His mentor will assist him in creating research questions and work with him throughout his high school career.
Jared recently reached out to Mary Hesdorffer, the executive director and nurse practitioner at the Meso Foundation, and has since established connections with multiple staff members.
Jared, accompanied by his parents and Dr. Forsberg, enthusiastically accepted the Meso Foundation’s invitation to attend its 2017 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, where he will present a poster and have the opportunity to connect with experts in the field and learn more about the current state of mesothelioma research.
“I am very excited to speak with researchers in March at the Symposium. I am hoping to learn as much as I can from the research of others,” Jared said. He is particularly looking forward to speaking with Dr. Pass and learning more about his work.
“Jared’s enthusiasm for mesothelioma research is encouraging and refreshing,” said Gleneara Bates, MSW, Director of Support Initiatives and Medical Outreach at the Meso Foundation. “Engaging the next generation in mesothelioma research is important because unfortunately we have not seen the decline in mesothelioma that was predicted. In order for the field of mesothelioma to progress beyond today’s researchers, we must engage the next generation. Jared is a great example of how the founders of mesothelioma research like Harvey Pass and Paul Sugarbaker are still inspiring and shaping the work we do.”
As he continues his time in the Science Research Program, Jared hopes to find a mentor who will assist him in developing a mesothelioma research question of his own that he can work on over the next two years. “This may sound like a large task for a high school student, but I believe that there are many areas in this field that need to be investigated and I would like to begin some of this work now,” said Jared.
When he graduates high school, Jared plans to attend college and pursue a career in medicine.
The Meso Foundation is looking forward to welcoming Jared at the Symposium and introducing him to the mesothelioma community, where his young passion is sure to be admired and appreciated. The Symposium will be held on March 27-29 in Bethesda, Maryland. For more information and registration, visit curemeso.org/symposium.