Education Technology

New “STEM Behind Health” activity gets students talking and learning about breast cancer

Texas Instruments and Sanford Health show students how STEM careers can change lives

DALLAS (October 12, 2015) – With one in eight U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime*, the odds are high that most students’ lives will be impacted by this disease. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Texas Instruments (TI) and Sanford Health have introduced a new “STEM Behind Health” activity called “Breast Cancer: When Good DNA Goes Bad” to help students better understand breast cancer and explore the math and science concepts that are helping to find a cure.

Developed with top medical experts and researchers, the activity introduces students to cutting edge science and research associated with recognizing and treating breast cancer. In the activity, Dr. Anu Gaba, a Sanford physician, introduces precision oncology, cancer treatment through personalized genetic analysis, an upcoming research project at Sanford Research. It also shares the story of breast cancer survivor, Kristi Egland, Ph.D., an associate scientist at Sanford Research who devoted her life to studying the disease before ever being diagnosed. She stresses the importance of having candid conversations with students to help them understand the science behind diseases like breast cancer that are still in need of a cure.

“Even a scientist who makes her living studying breast cancer can have a diagnosis come out of the blue,” said Egland. “At first, I was embarrassed by that, but now I’m empowered that by sharing my story, I’m helping students better understand and talk about this disease.”

“STEM Behind Health” presents middle and high school students with hands-on learning by depicting stories of actual patients like Egland. Using these activities, students explore the same math and science concepts that real life scientists and health professionals use to study and manage diseases such as breast cancer and diabetes.

“It’s important to show students how the science and math they learn in class connects them to a real person impacted by this very real disease,” said Peter Balyta, Ph.D., (@pbalyta), president of TI Education Technology.
“This activity opens the door for them to learn about diseases
like breast cancer in a scientific way, which can take the fear or embarrassment out of talking about your body.”

“STEM Behind Health” activities are free and available at Teachers and students can download the activities to the TI-NspireTM CX graphing calculator, Student Software or TI-Nspire™ Apps for iPad®.

“Our research is fueled by experts who have a solid understanding of math and science, and our collaboration with TI allows us to promote STEM subjects with students who may ultimately pursue careers in the medical field,” said David Pearce, Ph.D., president of Sanford Research. “Through this series, fundamental concepts behind complex diseases can be broken down into understandable, interactive activities that draw students into learning.”

*SOURCE: American Cancer Society®

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About Texas Instruments

Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications, helping students and teachers to explore mathematics and science interactively. TI's products and services are tested vigorously against recognized third-party research, which shows that the effective use of graphing calculators improves the mathematical skills of students and their attitudes toward mathematics. For more information, visit

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors.  By employing the world's brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology.  TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future, today.  Learn more at

About Sanford Health

Sanford Research is a non-profit research organization and is part of Sanford Health, an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. Sanford Health is one of the largest health systems in the nation with a presence in nine states and three countries. More than $600 million in gifts from Denny Sanford has provided for an expansion of research initiatives in type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and genomics in internal medicine.

With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Center, Cancer Biology, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention and Sanford Sports Science Institute.