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Sarah A. Wojiski
Director, STEM and Undergraduate Education
Genomic Education
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
Identical Twins, Identical Fates?: An Introduction to Epigenetics

This case tells the story of Elise, a college freshman whose identical twin sister has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Elise is concerned about her own risk for developing this disease. Through her research and interactions with a physician, students are introduced to the topic of epigenetics and learn about the data supporting an epigenetic contribution to this psychiatric disorder. This case was designed for a sophomore-level molecular biology course for majors and could easily be adapted for an undergraduate genetics course. The case may also be applicable in a course that covers biological psychology. Students should have a basic knowledge of Mendelian inheritance patterns and a good understanding of the structure of DNA and its packaging within the cell (particularly the role of histone proteins and chromatin). The case also provides an opportunity for students to examine figures and graphs from the primary literature.

Magic Bullets: A Case on Enzyme Inhibition

This clicker case was designed to teach students about basic enzyme structure, mechanisms of enzyme inhibition, and mechanisms of drug resistance. The story follows Oliver Casey, a patient afflicted with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). CML is caused by a chromosomal mutation that affects the tyrosine kinase ABL, an enzyme important in regulating cell growth and proliferation. The chromosomal mutation gives rise to the BCR-ABL fusion gene that produces a constitutively active ABL kinase, which causes the leukemia. In May 2001, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a rationally designed tyrosine kinase inhibitor, imatinib (Gleevec®), for the treatment of CML. During that same month, Gleevec made the cover of TIME magazine, described as "new ammunition in the war on cancer." The case is structured for a flipped classroom environment in which students view preparatory videos (including one by the author) on their own before beginning the case. Written for a first-year introductory biology course, the case could also be adapted for AP/Honors high school biology or a cancer biology course.

Solving a Medical Mystery with Bioinformatics: The Personal Genomics Journey of Dr. James Lupski

This computer-based case study guides students through publically available bioinformatics databases to solve a medical mystery. The case relates the real-life story of Dr. James Lupski, a renowned geneticist, who has a rare form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), a degenerative peripheral neuropathy. Students assume the role of a family physician who meets Dr. Lupski prior to his diagnosis. Students then investigate his symptoms to provide a medical diagnosis and, alongside Dr. Lupski, investigate his published genomic data and the causative gene, SH3TC2. Since there is no cure for the disease, students explore animal model databases to determine if there is an animal model of CMT and if it is being actively researched in order to provide Dr. Lupski with some hope. This exercise was initially developed for upper-level high school biology students and is appropriate for use in honors or advanced placement biology, biotechnology or genetics electives. It could also be adapted for use in introductory undergraduate biology courses.