Frontiers in Cancer Research (“Frontiers”) is presented by the Science Education Partnership (SEP) at Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“Fred Hutch”). The Frontiers program is designed to meet two goals of
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS): to increase
the STEM content knowledge and pedagogical skills of teachers and to engage students, especially those from
underserved populations, in basic and clinical medical research. Overall, Frontiers aims to increase public
understanding of basic molecular and cellular biology, how this knowledge informs research questions, and
how clinical research translates into cancer therapies and cures. More specifically, Frontiers focuses on
exciting new NIH-funded research at Fred Hutch, such as immunotherapy, that promises to fundamentally
change cancer treatment. The program will also explore the ethical implications of cancer research-related
topics. Another goal is to introduce students, particularly those from backgrounds underrepresented in the
biomedical sciences, to career possibilities in research.
1) Frontiers will engage secondary school students in basic molecular/cellular biology and cutting-edge cancer
research by creating, piloting, and disseminating two Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned
cancer-focused curricular units (Project Violet: Anti-Cancer Molecules, Cancer Immunotherapy) and three
different types of hands-on scientific kits (Protein Modeling and Cancer Treatment, Bioengineering Plasmid
Design, and CRISPR/Cas9). The units, which will consist of 5-7 lessons to span 2-3 weeks, will also help
students examine ethical issues related to genetic engineering, gene therapy, and clinical trials. We will use
small randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of the developed curricular materials.
2) Frontiers will enhance the ability of secondary school life science teachers to teach fundamental biological
principles and practices through the lens of cancer research by providing 20 teachers annually (Y2-Y5) with a
3-week summer professional development program that includes a mentored research experience, and 7 day-
long sessions throughout the school year.
3) Frontiers aims to inspire secondary school students from underrepresented communities to pursue
biomedical and clinical research careers. Our introductory school-year outreach program will bring 270
students annually to Fred Hutch to meet scientists and participate in Frontiers lessons held in dedicated Fred
Hutch student training labs. We will also create and implement a model for scientists at Fred Hutch to visit
classrooms to assist teachers with lessons and share their career paths with students.