Students Ask : Broadies Answer

Veronica Meade-Kelly, June 3rd, 2014

The Broad’s Office of Education and Outreach, in collaboration with the Cancer Program, is putting tools used for cancer research in students’ hands.

The team recently developed and piloted a curriculum that helps high school students learn about targeted cancer therapy by allowing them to analyze the same data sets used by Broad scientists. Like cancer researchers at the institute, the students can look at data from experiments on nearly 500 cancer cell lines and search for relationships between the genetic mutations that are driving various forms of cancer, and drugs that may target a cancer’s underlying cause. The ultimate goal of this type of research is to develop therapies that, unlike chemotherapy, can hit cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

“The project is not easy, and it requires students to synthesize a range of skills, from biology to mathematics,” explained Justine Lassar, a member of the Education and Outreach team that helped develop the curriculum. “That’s why we chose a topic that students could relate to: the social relevance of cancer allows us to tackle some really challenging data analysis and statistics. At the same time, the students can see the big picture of what all that work could mean for patients.”

The curriculum is currently being piloted at the Community Charter School of Cambridge, which partnered to develop the program, and will be used in several other local high schools next year. Learn more about the program – and about targeted cancer therapy – in this video, hosted by Community Charter School student Biondy Lisieux: 

To learn more about the ways the Broad is helping high school students with a curiosity for biomedical research explore their topic of interest, visit the Office of Education and Outreach online. If you have questions about the curriculum featured in this video, contact Rachel Gesserman at the Broad Institute.