Vikram Jairam, a 17-year-old student from the Head-Royce School in Oakland, had come to work in her laboratory at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Narayanaswami knew she needed to think of a project that would interest a teenager.
The experiment they designed around a chemical in second-hand smoke and its potential to predispose children to heart disease resonated with more than just the young researcher.
The paper was published this month in "Biochemistry," the official journal of the American Chemical Society. It has been listed as a "Hot Article," one with particular scientific relevance.
Jairam, a sophomore at Yale University whose family lives in Fremont, said he was thrilled by the news.
"That was phenomenal," he said.
Jairam and Narayanaswami were two of eight co-authors listed on the paper. It is titled, "Modification by Acrolein, aComponent of Tobacco Smoke and Age-related Oxidative Stress, Mediates Functional Impairment of Human Apolipoprotein E."
Narayanaswami said Jairam earned his co-authorship. After the 2005 summer program ended, he returned throughout the school year and into the following summer before leaving for college.
"I have a policy in my lab that you have to contribute significantly to get your name on the paper," she said.
Not only did Jairam contribute scientifically, she said, but he sparked the idea for the project, which is ongoing.
"The whole thing started because I had this eager kid showing up at my doorstep who wanted to do something," she said.