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Using Nanoparticles to Treat Cancer Scientist Spotlight

Author(s): Jennifer Wade1, Hyeyoun Chang2

1. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 2. Dana Farber Cancer Institute

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Students use published scientific data to determine which types of nanoparticles would be best to use to deliver cytotoxic drugs directly to cancer cells. Then they learn about the scientist who generated the data.


In this activity, students will review the advantages and disadvantages of currently used treatments for cancer. They will then be introduced to a novel therapeutic approach currently under development: the use of nanoparticles that are selectively engulfed by cancer cells to deliver cytotoxic drugs. They will view images of fluorescently stained cells to determine which type of nanoparticle works best to selectively target the cytotoxic agent to cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. They will then read a bar graph showing quantitative image analysis of the images they have viewed. Finally, students will view an interview with the scientist responsible for this experiment,  Dr. Hyeyoun Chang. In this interview, Dr. Chang describes her childhood and education, and talks about why she finds research to be a rewarding career.

Learning Outcomes

Quantitative learning outcomes  

1.     Students will be able to describe how fluorescence intensity can be quantitated and used for statistical determination of differences between samples

2.     Students will be able to interpret a bar graph generated using quantitative data about fluorescence intensity

Content learning outcomes  

1.     Students will be able to describe the challenges associated with treating cancer and the advantages and disadvantages of current cancer treatments

2.     Students will be able to describe how nanoparticles could be used to selectively deliver drugs to cancer cells while sparing healthy cells

Social justice and/or diversity/equity/inclusion learning outcomes  

1.     Students will learn that scientists have diverse backgrounds and interests

2.    Students will be better able to see themselves as scientists

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