Curiosity: A Secrecy of over a Century, from Polypoid Giant Cells to Cancer Stem Cells (Lead PI: Yinsheng Wan)

Curiosity: a Secrecy of over a Century, from Polypoid Giant Cells to Cancer Stem Cells

Students Reached:  ~ 20 high school students, mostly in eleventh – twelfth grade
Lead Researcher:  Dr. Yinsheng Wan, Providence College
Lead Teacher: Dr. Scott Macbeth, Classical High School

This program combined lectures on mitosis with a chance for students to see this process in action, giving students technical lab skills, an opportunity to learn how to think when a result does not agree with the textbook, and a chance to present their work to their peers.

Dr. Yinsheng Wan, professor of biology at Providence College, studies the effects of ultraviolet radiation on our skin and how skin cancers can subsequently form and progress. Dr. Wan began this program by giving a lecture to approximately 20 high school students, many of whom were from low-income households and historically underrepresented groups, about mitosis and the unusual exceptions presented by polyploid giant cells, such as human melanocytes. Students were introduced to this cell type and how giant polyploid cells may generally be involved in human cancers. Next, students learned how to prepare their own samples for confocal microscopy. Students prepared slides of cells that divide by canonical mitosis and as well as the abnormally dividing, polyploid human melanocytes. They then traveled with their teacher, Dr. Scott Macbeth, to Providence College to stain their cells and to look at their slides by immunofluorescence. Students were thus able to see these processes in real cells. After collecting enough images, students compiled their findings into posters that were displayed to their peers at Classical High School.

ASBMB HOPES funding was used to purchase the necessary cell lines and antibodies, to cover transportation for the students and for Dr. Macbeth, and to pay for the posters generated with the students’ images for display at Classical High School. This program will be repeated in the future.


Students from Classical High School learn how to treat samples in Dr. Yinsheng Wan’s lab.