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Program 3: Year Long Course

Year Long Course: CURE High School Research Academy

The CURE High School Research Academy is a cancer science curriculum that is offered in the form of a year long course. It was developed from the partnership between the UC Davis Cancer Center, the local St. Hope Academy at inner city Sacramento High School and the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology.

Program Description

The CURE program is designed to connect UC Davis cancer scientists and clinicians with high school students who attend Sacramento High School. CURE students participate in a year long academy that involves coursework, field study, and research experiences that teach students about cancer science, medical technologies and scientific research. 

The goal of the UC Davis Cancer Center’s CURE program is to offer a cancer science curriculum that will ultimately increase the number of underrepresented students that select cancer-relevant science majors at four-year undergraduate institutions.  The program has been providing ongoing and engaging learning experiences in basic, clinical and population sciences to four cohorts of local high school students over the last four years. 

The aims of the CURE program are:

(1) To offer a cancer science curriculum consisting of didactic and experiential learning in basic, clinical and population sciences for four successive cohorts of 20 high school students from Sacramento High School.

(2) To attract, recruit and enroll these students during the second semester of their ninth or tenth grade.

(3) To help prepare these students for entry into four-year institutions with a greater aptitude for and probability of selecting cancer-relevant majors.

(4) To track and longitudinally report the achievements of CURE students and alumni.

(5) To document and disseminate lessons learned.

 Biophotonics and Cancer Science Curriculum

Fall 2009 Curriculum

What is Inquiry

(2 weeks)

Cell Structure and Function

(3 weeks)

From Genes to Proteins


Cell Cycle

(3 weeks)

Cancer Laboratory Activities and Guest Speakers

(2 weeks)

Modeling Cancer

(3 weeks)

Activity 1: Is Seeing Believing? (Perception, observation in science—objective vs. subjective)Activity 1: Review of Cell structure and function—Cells Alive: Internet lesson--compare and contrast eukaryotic and prokaryotic cellsActivity 1:DNA, transcription and translation review.


Activity 1: Review cell cycleActivity 1: Sunburn, Sunscreen, and Cancer


Activity 1: Track the Trends—NIH SEER data used to predict cancer trends.
Activity 2: Pupil Size –what happens to the pupil as light shines in?Activity 2: Cells on microscope from all different kingdoms looking for similarities and differences between different types of cells.Activity 2: Cell story


Activity 2: Mistakes that can happen to lead to cancer


Activity 2: Find the Toxic Dose


Activity 3: Checking the experimental design: control group, independent vs. dependent variable, repeated trials—critique and poster.Activity 3: Travel Brochure for a Cell


Activity 3: Stem Cell video; DNA and proteins video; protein folding, intro to mutation. (Proteins: Structure and Function and The Genetic Code).Activity 3: Mitosis/Meiosis review


Activity 3: Mystery yeast mutation lab



Activity 4: Student designed experiment


Activity 4: String Cells: Model focused on function—presented and judgedActivity 4: What are mutations? Why do they affect the cell—Case studies:Tazwana’s Story (Splicing); Sickle Cell Mutation; andHemophilia.Activity 4: What is cancer? Connection between cell cycle and cancerActivity 4:Guest Lecture: “Drugs, Tobacco and Cancer”



Activity 5: Videos and internet webquestActivity 5:Ghost in your genesActivity 5: Cells in Reverse Understanding gene testing and carcinogens. Relationshipbetween melatonin and causes of cancer.Activity 5:Guest Lecture: “Nutrition and Cancer”





Activity 6: Guest lecture: “Food as a carcinogen.”Activity 6:Guest Lecture: “Head, Neck and Throat Cancer”






Activity 7:Medical Residents (Groups of 4; 1/month, discuss a cancer)


Spring and Summer 2010 Curriculum

Independent Research

(8 weeks)

Cancer Review/ Clinical Trials

(1 week)

Biophotonics Laboratory Activities

(2 weeks)

Advanced Laboratory Techniques

(2 weeks)

4 Week Summer Cancer Research Experience

(6/21 – 7/16 2010)

~8 Students

Activity 1:Student designed research presented in the local science fair.Activity 1:

Cancer Warrior NOVA video

Activity 1:Observing CancerActivity 1: ELISA lab activityActivity 1: Students work in teams to complete a research project
Activity 2:Prepare Final poster for presentation.Activity 2:Discovery based approach to understanding clinical trialsActivity 2:Model a FingerActivity 2: GFP Bacteria Transformation





Activity 3: GFP Purification





Activity 4:Building a calibration curve





Activity 5:Saving TOM, Protein Purification Activity


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Please contact Marco Molinaro for more information.