Frontiers in Cancer Research

Frontiers in Cancer Research ("Frontiers") is an NIH SEPA funded program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Frontiers provides curriculum, hands-on scientific resources and research experiences to help secondary school teachers and their students understand what cancer is, how it can be treated, and what kind of careers are possible in biomedical research. This program builds on our long-standing efforts and institutional commitment to support the development of a more diverse next generation of biomedical scientists.


  • SEP-Frontiers Teacher Professional Development
  • Frontiers in Cancer Research Curriculum Development
  • SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Confidence Project


Chowning, J. T. (2023). “We All Sort of Jump to That Relationship Piece”: Science Teachers’ Collaborative Professional Learning about the Role of Relationships in Argumentation. Cognition and Instruction, 1–36.

Chowning, J. T. (2022). Science teachers in research labs: Expanding conceptions of social dialogic dimensions of scientific argumentationJournal of Research in Science Teaching, 1– 28.

Chowning, J. T., Wu, R., Brinkema, C., Crocker, W. D., Bass, K., & Lazerte, D. (2019). A NEW Twist on DNA Extraction: Collaborative argumentation and student protocol design. The Science Teacher, 86(6), 20-27. PMC6656384


Frontiers in Cancer Research Curriculum

blood cells

Intro to Cancer: Leukemia & Hina's Story

A Cellular Look at Cancer and Cancer Treatments

This unit investigates the case of Hina Marsey, an eleven-year old girl, who is diagnosed with leukemia. By exploring Hina’s case, students develop conceptual models on cell growth/development, cancer, and cancer treatments. Students have opportunities for collaborative model building, discussions about health inequities in cancer, and evidence-based argumentation.

Intro Biology
10 Lesson Plans
Remote or In Classroom

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Illustration of a t-cell attacking a cancer cell


This unit focuses on the topic of cancer, leukemia, and immunotherapies as a way to explore concepts such as the cell cycle, cell growth, the immune system, and genetic mutations. Over the seven lessons, students are introduced to a case study featuring Kristin K., a woman diagnosed with a treatment-resistant form of leukemia and for whom a stem cell donor match could not be found.

Advanced Biology & Biotechnology
7 Lesson Plans
Remote or In Classroom

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Careers in Cancer - Career Profiles

The Frontiers in Cancer Research - Career Profiles Website has been developed as a tool for high school students to accompany the Frontiers in Cancer Research curriculum units. The site features profiles of real professionals working in fields related to cancer research, cancer treatment, and patient care. These people work across many disciplines of science, social sciences, medicine, and healthcare. Their stories represent a variety of career and educational pathways, diverse backgrounds, and various career stages. The featured professionals work for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, the University of Washington, Seattle Children's Hospital, and other organizations based in Washington State. Some work with adult patients, others work with pediatric patients and their families. For many of the featured professionals, their work is related to leukemia and other blood cancers and the topics featured in these curriculum units. Students can explore the profiles on the site, read a variety of career stories, and access links to external resources. In addition, a Becoming the Next Cancer Researcher or Clinician section provides college and career information for students planning for a career in STEM, healthcare, or medicine. Teachers can use the Supplementary Info: College & Career Connections document to plan how to incorporate the study of careers in the science classroom. (Note that this site is currently in development; more profiles are being added each month).

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Confidence Project

The Science Education Partnership (SEP) at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is at the forefront of several dimensions of the effort to address the ongoing challenges of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We received a supplement to our Frontiers in Cancer Research grant to develop Educational Resources to Promote SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Confidence. SEP partnered with the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) headquartered at Fred Hutch as well as the Fred Hutch / UW Cancer Consortium’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (OCOE). For this project, teachers, scientists, and health educators worked to create lessons and social media content to increase vaccine confidence within our students’ communities, the catchment area of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and nationally via our social media posts.

There are two aims of this project: (1) Inspire vaccine confidence in students and community members through high quality scientific animations, informational videos targeted to youth, and recorded scientific talks and tours. (2) Create lessons and educational materials that can be used with the resources developed.


How do mRNA vaccines work? - An animation

For this project, SEP partnered with Arkitek Scientific to create a high-quality scientific animation of how the mRNA vaccine works. This short (4:10) video, which is narrated by student intern Yusuf H., is targeted to youth and the public. Teachers can use it to introduce or reinforce the relationship between DNA, RNA, and protein (the "central dogma") within biology classrooms. It can also be used by health educators to describe mRNA and the creation of this new type of vaccine.

Vaccine Confidence Lessons and Educational Media Posts

SARS-CoV-2 Virus

Vaccine Confidence Lessons

In these two lesson sequences, students explore phenomena associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vaccine Confidence lessons provide an opportunity to introduce or reinforce the concept of central dogma while having students explore what vaccines do and how they protect our communities.

3 Lessons - mRNA Vaccine Confidence
7 Lessons - COVID-19 Testing and Inequities
Remote or In Classroom


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COVID-19 Prevention Network

COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) out additional materials created by the COVID-19 Prevention Network. These materials can be found on the CoVPN website: Public Health Educational Social Media Posts can be found on their instagram, which is linked below.

Visit the CoVPN Instagram

COVID-19-related Hutch@Home Talks

Dr. Jesse Bloom

The Evolutionary Potential of SARS-CoV-2

By Dr. Jesse Bloom, Associate Professor, Basic Sciences and Public Health Sciences Divisions.

Recorded Session
Craig Dee, Dillon van Rensburg, and Dante' Morehead

Public Health: What does a Community Health Educator do?

By Craig Dee, Dillon van Rensburg, and Dante' Morehead from the Office of Community Outreach and Education

Recorded Session
Decorative Image

Genomic epidemiology on the frontlines: Learning about disease transmission from pathogen genome sequences

By Allison Black in the Bedford Lab in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease, Public Health Sciences and Human Biology Divisions

Recorded Session
Dr. Steve Pergam

Dr. Pergam's personal journey as a scientist/researcher

By Dr. Steve Pergam, Professor, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division and Clinical Research Division

Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention, Fred Hutch

Recorded Session

This project was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number R25 GM129842, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIGMS or NIH.

NIGMS, part of the National Institutes of Health, supports basic research that increases the understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Its Science Education Partnership Award program funds innovative pre-kindergarten to grade 12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and informal science education projects.