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Symposium Promotes Biotechnology Teaching

Northwestern, Baxter International, Lindblom Academy sponsor hands-on summer teacher workshops

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Bringing today’s science into Chicago classrooms is the driving goal of a summer series of professional development workshops in biotechnology that kicks off Tuesday, May 14 with a symposium on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

The May 14 event – “Bringing Biotech from the Bench to the K-12 Classroom” will allow educators to learn from world-class scientists. In addition, it will connect teachers to the partners sponsoring the summer workshop series. They are Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), Baxter International Inc., a global healthcare company, and the Biotechnology Center of Excellence (BCoE) at Lindblom Math and Science Academy.

Some 100 Chicago Public Schools educators are expected to attend the May 14 symposium. It will feature Lonnie Shea, professor of chemical and biological engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and senior researchers and executives from Baxter International Inc.

Teachers will gain knowledge and lab skills through multiple seminars and hands-on activities with scientists and educational leaders from OSEP, Baxter International and the Biotechnology Center of Excellence. Shea’s research laboratory does pioneering science at the intersection of regenerative medicine, biomaterials, and gene and drug delivery, such as creating synthetic environments to promote regeneration.

On the industry side, Baxter scientists will explore the world of biotechnology trends and examine real-world examples of how biotechnology influences healthcare and medicine.  Biotechnology Center of Excellence instructors will demonstrate how to translate the complex activity of protein folding into the science classroom.

Teachers will take part in hands-on curriculum modules based on today’s research science in new areas such as oncofertility and bioinformatics. Oncofertility, which seeks to preserve the fertility of cancer patients, was pioneered by Teresa Woodruff, a Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

The work of Woodruff’s laboratory provides a real-life context for a high school biotechnology curriculum developed by OSEP. Northwestern also has a research program in bioinformatics, a new discipline drawing on biology, mathematics and information technology to improve understanding of genes and their interactions.

The May 14 symposium runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will include tours of world-class science facilities on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. It will include visits to Professor Richard Silverman’s laboratory and the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging’s (CAMI) 3-D imaging wall in Silverman Hall, which houses the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute.

Closing the gap between real science and school science is at the heart of the entire series of workshops on teaching biotechnology planned for July through the OSEP, BCoE at Lindblom and Baxter International Inc. partnership.

Upcoming workshops in the series are:

  • July 8-12, Survey of Biotechnology Professional Development Workshop: Middle and high school science teachers will learn about ways to incorporate biotechnology in their classrooms. This weeklong workshop features hands-on labs and discussions with Baxter research scientists.
  • July 15-18, NUBIO (Northwestern University Biology Investigations in Oncofertility) Professional Development Workshop: High school biology, anatomy, biotech and health science teachers will learn about NUBIO curriculum modules based on oncofertility research in the Woodruff lab at Northwestern University.
  • July 29-Aug. 2, Research Lab Experiences: Teachers will spend two weeks in leading-edge biotechnology laboratories at Northwestern University and tour Baxter’s facilities. 

“Teachers will gain access to cutting-edge scientific research and practice in biotechnology as well as the best practices of STEM teaching and learning,” says Kemi Jona of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. Jona directs OSEP, which links schools in the Chicago area and around the country with Northwestern University’s advanced resources in STEM.

Baxter International Inc. helps communities across the world address a broad range of needs, including improving STEM education. In 2008, Baxter launched Science@Work: Expanding Minds with Real-World Science, a multi-year commitment to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology.

For more information on the Biotechnology Professional Development Series, contact Emily Ferrin,

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