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Elizabeth Hillman, Discovery Education

– Dynamic, Standards-Aligned Digital Resources Deepen Students’ Understanding of the Biology and Genetics of Cancer –

Silver Spring, Md. (May 5, 2016) – Discovery Education, the Val Skinner Foundation, the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and the Rutgers School of Public Health announced today the launch of a new, interactive biology and genetics education program supporting the study of cancer in the classroom.  Designed for high school teachers, students, and parents, Decoding Cancer is a ground-breaking collection of standards-aligned, interactive classroom resources developed to help students and their families understand the science behind cancer, enhance science literacy and increase cancer education and awareness among youth.

Now available to schools and families nationwide,  Decoding Cancer is powered by BioCONECT (Biology of Cancer, Online Education Connecting Teens), an inquiry-based biology curriculum for high school students developed by the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Public Health, in collaboration with the Val Skinner Foundation. The program was successfully piloted in schools in New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida.

Through the curriculum, students develop problem-solving and decision-making skills with real-life applications, apply their knowledge of biology, expand their understanding of genetics, explore relationships between science and technology, and learn about health-related careers. Decoding Cancer featuring BioCONECT teaches students how cancer develops, how to identify risk factors for cancer and allows them to investigate ways to reduce cancer risk. Discovery Education will amplify Decoding Cancer by extending the discussion into high school classrooms nationwide.

“By reaching kids at a young age and educating them on the science of cancer, we are also helping them become aware of the critical importance of early detection,” said Val Skinner. “BioCONECT has proven to be an incredibly effective tool in classrooms through our pilot program and the partnership with Discovery Education now gives the program, now called Decoding Cancer, a much-needed national platform.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. Decoding Cancer facilitates meaningful discussions about this important topic among high school teachers, students, and families through a powerful combination of digital resources including:

  • Dynamic lesson plans: Dynamic lesson plans with accompanying teacher guides present topics including genetics, diagnosis, treatment and risk reduction. Fully aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the interactive lessons are designed to enhance existing high school science and biology curricula. The plans are accessible on and will also be available to half of U.S. classrooms through Discovery Education’s award-winning Streaming Plus service.
  • Health and biomedical career profiles: More than a dozen profiles offer students a look into exciting and rewarding careers in the health and biomedical fields, such as a physician, pharmacist, researcher and social worker. Profiles include high school courses to consider, an average annual salary range, and a 'day in the life' snapshot.
  • Family discussion guide: This guide offers thoughtful advice to adults on the best way to address the topic of cancer when a student is personally affected, and equips families with tools to facilitate meaningful conversations about this sensitive issue.
  • Virtual lab (COMING SOON): This virtual lab will allow students to act as virtual physicians and technicians. Students will test tissue samples from different breast cancer patients with the goal of determining possible treatment approaches based on the results.

“Cancer touches and deeply affects millions of people across the nation each and every day,” said Mark Case, science teacher at North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools. “That’s why it’s essential that we support the study of cancer in the classroom today and empower educators with engaging, dynamic tools they can easily integrate into instruction to teach their students about this topic and help them understand the emotional affects. I’m looking forward to using these cutting-edge resources in my classroom to help deepen my students’ understanding of the science behind cancer.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with these outstanding organizations to bring BioCONECT to a national audience,” said Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, Director of the LIFE Center and Chief Medical Officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “Educating students about breast cancer, its risk factors and how to prevent it will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the disease and improved early detection.”

To learn more about the new program or to access the free resources, please visit

About The Val Skinner Foundation
The Val Skinner Foundation was founded by former LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) champion, Val Skinner, to honor the memory of a friend and fellow professional golfer who passed away from breast cancer at 28 years old. The mission of the Val Skinner Foundation is to support organizations whose primary activities are centered on breast cancer research, treatment and education. A key element of the mission is to arm a younger generation of women and their families with information about cancer risk, early detection, and the importance of healthy practices.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at the Cancer Institute engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice. The Val Skinner Foundation partnered with the Rutgers Cancer Institute and together founded the LIFE Center, a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer experts, including genetic counselors, medical oncologists, surgeons, and nurse practitioners who help young women better understand their personal risk to develop breast cancer and their knowledge of appropriate prevention and screening strategies. One component of the LIFE Center is to serve as a laboratory for the development and evaluation of novel educational tools and strategies for community education of young women and their families such as BioCONECT.

About Rutgers School of Public Health
Rutgers School of Public Health seeks to improve health and prevent disease in diverse populations in New Jersey and around the world through educating students to become well-qualified and effective public health leaders, researchers and practitioners; conducting research to advance public health science and policies; and providing service programs that promote population and individual health. The School educates a wide range of individuals in disciplines that greatly contribute to formal public health activities, in particular disciplines in biostatistics, dental public health, epidemiology, environmental and occupational health, health education and behavioral science, health systems and policy, and urban health administration. The School of Public Health has active research and services program addressing several areas in public health, including cancer prevention and education through programs such as BioCONECT.

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at