Future oncologists research cure for cancer

Heights High seniors Dereese Cunningham and Joi Starks (from left) donned lab coats and stethoscopes as part of their oncology research project.

Nicole Miller, Heights High anatomy and physiology teacher, had a deceptively simple question for her students: How will you cure cancer? The assignment asked students to research a specific gene that is prone to mutation and the resulting cancer that occurs because of the mutation.

The project also asked the budding research oncologists to describe current treatments and design their own treatment and possible cure. The students then presented their research for peer review, in front of their classmates.

“I was very impressed with the students’ level of focus, engagement and perseverance on this project,” said Miller, who is co-advisor of Heights High’s Science Olympiad club. “They were constantly asking questions and digging for more information.”

Some of the gene mutations and resulting cancers targeted by the students were: BRCA gene (breast cancer and ovarian cancer), KIT gene (gastrointestinal cancer, leukemia and lymphoma), APC gene (colon cancer), and RB1 gene (retinoblastoma).

The assignment required students to apply their knowledge about cells, DNA and genetics—information that was covered earlier in the school year and in the biology prerequisite.

Many students in the class have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field.

“Science is so cool,” said Miller. “It is fun to see students drawn into the excitement of scientific research.”

Joy Henderson

Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison for Heights High.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 5:52 PM, 12.01.2015