SH High Student Wins Science Award

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by Robert Kimmel

Elizabeth Silver discusses research with high school instructor Janet Longo-Abinanti.

Sleepy Hollow High School senior Elizabeth Silver, recent winner of the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award, “is genuinely concerned about treating and healing human diseases,” stated Janet Longo-Abinanti, Career Coordinator and Science Research Instructor at SHHS. She described Silver as “…one of the top students of my career not only because of her high level of intelligence but also because of her outstanding work ethic, character, and integrity.”

The Acorda Award was established by Acorda Therapeutics, Inc “…to recognize Westchester County high school students who are engaged in highly significant and innovative scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical (STEM) research.”

Silver’s research involved working with a mentor at Hartford Hospital Outpatient Infusion Center where she had been a student intern, a position mostly filled by college students. She was engaged in a study to determine if the lengths of telomeres, the protective caps at the end of DNA strands, relate to heart failure in certain patients. Studying blood samples from 35 patients a year apart, she explained “…that for people who responded to treatment, the caps remained about the same, but those people who did not respond to treatment, and got worse, they had shorter telomeres. The results suggested that the measurement might be used potentially as a biomarker for progressive heart failure.

Silver is pursuing admittance to colleges where special programs assure entrance into medical school if grades are maintained at a strong level. Her motivation to become a doctor started in high school when Silver said she “…took more and more advanced science classes. Sleepy Hollow gave me a wonderful foundation in science and exposed me to aspects that I never knew before.” She added that becoming a physician, “…would give me an opportunity to apply what I’m learning and to help people.” She lauded her science teachers at the high school, including Longo-Abinanti, for her dedication in helping students with their projects and guiding them to apply for different competitions.

“During her high school career she has regularly embraced opportunities for knowledge in a variety of areas,” Longo-Abinanti said. “She has had American Red Cross First Aid training as well as CPR training. She has the desire to become a physician and the drive to succeed.”

While science has been her focus, Silver, an honor student, has also managed to take part in many other activities which have included being a flute player in the high school band, on the Math Team, swim and track teams, as well as being involved in student government. She has also assisted in the Special Olympics Spring Games, mentored students at Washington Irving Elementary School, taken part in the Sleepy Hollow talent show, and had an internship at Phelps Hospital.

Prior to entering her junior year at Sleepy Hollow High, Silver was one of two winners of the Hall of Fame Essay Contest sponsored by the Historical Society serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, Warner Library, The Hudson Valley Writers’ Association and the Villages of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. She wrote about, Dr. John W. Robertson, who had been a well-known physician in the local communities early in the past century. When becoming a doctor, Silver would be following in the footsteps of her parents. Her father, Michael is a cardiologist, and her mother, Dr. Patricia Sheiner, is a transplant surgeon at Hartford Hospital.

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