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Sarah A. Wojiski
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Southern Connecticut State University
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.