Odessa students and Texas Tech researchers working on novel treatment for cancer

As a part of PICK Education’s model, which brings real-world experiences into the classroom, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and a group of student researchers from Ector County Independent School District are working together on a novel treatment for cancer in space.

The group of sixth graders from Nimitz Middle School will be traveling from Odessa Tuesday to meet a team of researchers from the Department of Surgery at TTUHSC to load their experiment samples for spaceflight during a video conference with NanoRacks, a news release stated.

The experiment will study the activation of the spores in the bacterium, Clostridium sporogenes, in microgravity. The study aims to treat colon cancer with a new method for astronauts that are exposed to radiation in space.

The experiment is set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on the SpaceX CRS-18 in July.

Nimitz Middle School was one of three ECISD finalists in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

This is the second year ECISD has been selected into SSEP, and is one of 38 communities participating in the competition across three countries; the United States, Canada and Brazil.

The group of sixth graders will also be traveling to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., to attend the 2019 SSEP National Conference, hosted by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), the release stated.

The students will be presenting their experiment design and attend featured presentations by nationally recognized scientists, engineers and astronauts.

SSEP is designed as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education initiative, and gives students the opportunity to become researchers where they are able to design and propose real microgravity experiments to be conducted by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP] is a program of the NCESSE in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally.

It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

Funding was provided by a grant from the Texas Space Grant Consortium, Subaru of America, Inc., Chevron and Education Foundation of Odessa.

The district expressed a special thank you to these individuals from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa — Dr. Natalia Schlabritz-Lutsevich, Dr. Kushal Gandhi, Dr. Seheung Lee and Aneesh Bapodra.