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Nearly 20% of cancer cases stem from infectious disease, which makes studying infections a major aspect of cancer research. Ten students from TAF@Saghalie’s Medical Interventions class learned this firsthand as they did blood tests in a real lab at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

The Medical Interventions class comes from the Biomedical Science branch of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a STEM, project based learning curriculum. PLTW describes it as “students follow the life of a fictitious family and investigate how to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.”

Fred Hutch has a teaching lab open specifically for youth under 18 as part of its commitment to education, community engagement, inclusion, and culturally proficient programs. As a longstanding TAF community partner they were eager to host the class trip.

This Medical Interventions class hasn’t gotten to their unit on cancer yet, but students had started diagnosing disease in class. At Fred Hutch, they donned appropriate PPE and conducted enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing on HIV samples.


11th grader Diego thought the real-world tools in Fred Hutch’s lab were interesting. His samples changed color when results were positive while “when we did it in class, we didn’t get results back.” 

Students tested samples alongside 4 Hutch researchers. Their guidance helped Diego and his class learn more about how antibodies and antigens bind together during an ELISA test.

After the lab work, students got a tour of the Fred Hutch campus. It was a top to bottom tour from the rooftop view of Lake Union to the connecting basement tunnels. Along the way, students got to see a Nobel Prize earned from research at Fred Hutch, a 1993-time capsule (to be opened in 2093 or when cancer is cured), and learned about the center’s namesake Fred Hutch. 


Before leaving, the Science Outreach team made sure to let our students know that there were many opportunities for them to return and do science at Fred Hutch. Students were introduced to summer programs they can do while still in high school and even more program offerings to consider when they enter college. 

Even their teacher, Renee Link, can come back for teacher professional development during the summer. Until then, she expressed interest in bringing her other classes to Fred Hutch.

It seems very likely that TAF@Sagahlie will be back in Fred Hutch’s labs, in one way or many, very soon.


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