Fred Hutch wins $1.26 million grant to boost science and education efforts

Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences aims to attract underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields
Photo of students
High school students Aleksandra Kogalovski of Mercer Island High School (left) and Alberta Gbla of Mariner High School (right) practice an experiment in the training lab at Fred Hutch earlier this month. Caren Brinkema/Fred Hutch

SEATTLE — August 15, 2018 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced it received a five-year Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), worth $1.26 million.

The award will fund new “Frontiers in Cancer Research,” a new program within Fred Hutch’s Science Education & Training efforts, which will focus on:

  • Inspiring secondary school students from underrepresented communities to pursue biomedical and clinical research careers.
  • Developing and piloting cancer-focused curricula and hands-on science kit resources that highlight ethical issues around genetic engineering, gene therapy, clinical trials, and Fred Hutch’s breakthrough research.
  • Providing professional development and mentored research experiences for life science teachers on fundamental biological principles and practices through the lens of cancer research.

“We’re living in an incredible time with so many advances being made in cancer research,” said Jeanne Ting Chowning, senior director of Science Education Training at Fred Hutch and the program's principal investigator. “This NIGMS SEPA grant will help not only Fred Hutch but the entire science and research community by helping students see the importance of medical research and engaging more students in science careers.”

The SEPA-funded curricula will serve as part of a larger program refresh of Fred Hutch’s long-running Science Education Partnership (SEP). Since 1991, SEP has helped foster partnerships between research scientists and over 545 secondary school science teachers in Washington state. SEP is part of Fred Hutch’s commitment to training current and next-generation of scientific leaders from diverse backgrounds at all academic levels.

The 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 SEPA program funds innovative pre-kindergarten to grade 12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and informal science education (ISE) projects.


At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Tom Kim