Sanford Research Leads the Way in South Dakota

Project Lead The Way is proud to announce that Sanford Research, a non-profit research organization formed between Sanford Health and The University of South Dakota, is the first PLTW Affiliate University partner in South Dakota.

PLTW University Affiliate partners are the colleges and universities that have agreements with PLTW to facilitate the delivery of a specific PLTW program. In coordination with PLTW’s directors of school engagement and region teams, University Affiliates provide and coordinate the activities college-level recognition, program quality initiatives, professional development, outreach, and awareness.

“We are very excited to have them as our affiliate in South Dakota because of their research-based mission, their outreach to K-12 education—especially students and teachers, and their experts in bioscience in general,” said Robin Schott, PLTW vice president, west central region.

Sanford Research is a unique affiliate because of its status as a health research institution with multiple health, research, and academic partnerships. Established in 1998, the goal of Sanford Research is to establish and support biomedical research activities in Sioux Falls, S.D., the site of the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota’s primary clinical activities. However, Sanford Health has a much larger footprint across the Northern Plains, serving over two million people in rural communities of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Therefore, Sanford Research intimately understands regional biomedical workforce needs and pursued a partnership with PLTW to address these demands. Leaders didn’t have to look far to lend a helping hand; schools in the region were already utilizing the PLTW Biomedical Sciences curriculum, and the current programs were “leading by example,” said Peter Vitiello, Sanford Research associate scientist in the Children’s Health Research Center. Unfortunately, the schools were lacking regional affiliates. But, that’s where Sanford Research stepped in to lead the way.

“An excellent reputation for PLTW already exists, and we recognize the value and impact for schools and students if we are able to put PLTW on their doorstep,” said Vitiello.

Vitiello said PLTW curriculum “authenticates” the work Sanford Research is doing in the laboratory and helps bring awareness to students and schools.

“We want to promote biomedical interests of students,” said Vitiello. “The PLTW program is the perfect conduit to internship experiences and learning opportunities we have in our laboratories for high school students, educators, and graduates.”

“[Sanford Research] will be a unique leading-edge partner for Project Lead The Way and a tremendous asset for PLTW schools and teachers in the region,” said Schott.