Fred Hutch's student lab a breeding ground for future leaders

Fred Hutch's student lab a breeding ground for future leaders »Play Video
SEATTLE -- There's an interesting science experiment happening at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Scientists are trying to discover tomorrow's bio medical leaders, and you'll be surprised by where they're looking.

The white coats who are collaborating, working with cells and crunching complicated unit conversion are high school students. Their work at the training lab is a big science experiment.

The students are from TAF, an alternative school with a science bend in the Federal Way School District.

"I wanted to create an environment where they could meet bright people, feel a part of that community and realize they could belong," said Dr. Beverly Torok-Storb.

Since state law prohibits students from labs because of potential hazards, Tork-Storb, a stem cell researcher, built a student-friendly lab, which is a first of its kind. And she wrote and secured a federal grant to pay for it.

"We're going to follow these students through their academic career. We want to see if we impact the kinds of colleges they get in to," said Torok-Storb.

The curriculum they choose to major in and how well they do.

Each student is in the program for three years, working in the lab twice a month during the school year.

"It's so funny how you learn one thing one week, and then you come here and you're literally applying it," said eleventh-grader Anna Glassmeyer.

"I want to become a biomedical engineer, so this is my first step," said eleventh-grader Cameron Sharpe.

They learn by doing -- a great life lesson, even if they don't become scientists.

"I can definitely see myself being like Dr. Beverly, but I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up," said tenth-grader Manpreet Bassi.

Fred Hutch hopes other research labs will consider creating a similar training lab.

This week, Torok-Storb was honored by the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research for the student program.