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Fox Chase Cancer Center Becomes Part of an International Classroom for Young Scientists

PHILADELPHIA (December 2, 1999) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center becomes part of an international classroom as nearly 200 area high school students take part in a science lesson seen around the world, LIVE via satellite and the World Wide Web. On Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 6th and 7th, 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., science students from Philadelphia and Montgomery County schools will assemble at Fox Chase and interact with two internationally distinguished scientists who will discuss science's successes, shortcomings and promising new discoveries in combating infectious diseases. The annual Holiday Lectures are funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

This program is the inaugural event for Fox Chase Cancer Center's newly developed "Partnership for Cancer Research Education" funded by a grant from HHMI. Through the Partnership, teachers and whole classes of students team-up with Fox Chase scientists to work on real, ongoing cancer research projects being conducted at Fox Chase's Institute for Cancer Research. In addition, 12 student scientists selected annually by the partnership will conduct individual research projects in Fox Chase laboratories.

"This is a novel way of connecting students and scientists to share the excitement of scientific discovery," explained Cindy Keleher, Ph.D., program director for the Partnership. "Never before have we partnered scientists with whole classes of students to work on actual research projects being conducted in the scientists' lab. Most existing programs have tailored the students' experiments so that the outcome is known. This partnership is unique in that the students will be involved in real biological research."

As part of the inaugural kick-off for the partnership, the two programs on Monday and Tuesday will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a tour of Fox Chase Cancer Center and a hands-on visit to a lab. Then from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the students will watch two lectures live via satellite. In the program entitled 2000 and Beyond: Confronting the Microbe Menace, Donald E. Ganem, M.D., an HHMI investigator at the University of California San Francisco, and B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., an HHMI international research scholar at the University of British Columbia in Canada, will address an international audience of students, teachers and others via satellite and the World Wide Web.

Ganem will explain how medical science determines whether diseases are infectious and tracks down the microbial culprits. He will also explore how epidemics arise, influenced by changes in the environment and human behavior, as well as by genetic mutations in microbes themselves. A professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of California San Francisco, Ganem's research focuses on the hepatitis B and D viruses and on human herpesvirus 8, a newly identified virus that appears to cause Kaposi's sarcoma-the most common cancer in AIDS patients.

Finlay will discuss the dramatic victories won after the discovery of antibiotics, but also the way microbes are fighting back by developing antibiotic-resistance that can make even routine infections deadly. Then he will describe the hunt for new weapons against microbes, which begins with research into the tricks that microbes use to escape the body's defenses and make themselves at home in host cells.

Finlay's research has revealed that some bacteria infect by injecting their own "docking receptor" or landing pad into human cells. Finlay is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He studies the molecular biology of bacterial pathogens, including Salmonella and E. coli, which cause food poisoning, and H. pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers. This year he won one of Canada's most prestigious science awards, the Steacie Prize.

The students attending the lectures at Fox Chase Cancer Center will be able to ask questions and get their answers live via the satellite from Drs. Ganem and Finlay during the question and answer session from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

HHMI is a philanthropic organization whose scientists conduct biomedical research at more than 70 universities and medical centers nationwide. The Institute also awards more than $100 million annually to science education programs across the country, the largest privately funded science education initiative in U.S. history.

Fox Chase Cancer Center and 34 other biomedical research institutions nationwide were selected to receive a Pre-College Science Education Grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Fox Chase's award is for $325,000, over four years.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 37 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research including prevention, the detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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