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Tracie M. Addy
Director
addyt@lafayette.edu
Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning and Scholarship
Lafayette College
Bringing Home More than a Medal: An Olympian’s Battle Following Zika Virus Infection

This case study was inspired by the Zika virus outbreak that occurred around the time of the 2016 Olympic Games. Many athletes were fearful of attending because of the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in infants. This concern, however, ran contrary to reports suggesting that the risk of athletes and other travelers becoming infected was remarkably low. Jessica, a fictional Olympic equestrian and the main character of the case, was unfortunately very unlucky and contracted Zika virus near the time of the Games. She ended up enduring negative health complications likely as a consequence of the infection.  This case was designed to be implemented in the nervous system unit of a human biology or anatomy and physiology course. The case is also appropriate for microbiology and public health courses.   Students are expected to have foundational knowledge in viral life cycles, and will explore disruptions in neurotransmission as well as abnormal fetal brain development.


The Ebola Wars: Advanced Edition 

This case study was written for upper level undergraduate and graduate students to review foundational aspects of virology and to examine Ebola virus infection in detail. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as a volunteer. While abroad, Terry comes into contact with a patient infected with the Ebola virus and later displays the signs and symptoms of an Ebola virus infection. Terry then learns about the general features of viruses and viral life cycles, as well as the most up to date information about features unique to the Ebola virus, the host cell response to Ebola virus infection, and treatment options. Students are expected to have a basic knowledge of cell biology, the central dogma, and viral life cycles.  Students are asked to think critically and apply information learned in the case to answer questions, create hypotheses, and design appropriate biological experiments. A more general version of the case, suitable for a general biology course, is also available on this site.


The Ebola Wars: General Edition 

This case study introduces students to viruses and is suitable for a general biology course. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as a volunteer. While abroad, Terry comes into contact with a patient infected with the Ebola virus and later displays the signs and symptoms of an Ebola virus infection. Over the course of the case study Terry learns about the general features of viruses, viral life cycles, in addition to the unique features of the Ebola virus and treatment options. The case is presented in an interrupted fashion. Students are expected to have prior knowledge of protein, lipid and nucleic acid structure and function, the parts of the cells (e.g., the properties of the cell membrane and the role of ribosomes) and the central dogma (e.g., the processes of transcription and translation). An advanced version of the case, intended for upper level undergraduate and graduate students, is also available on this site.


The Ebola Wars: Mission Immune Evasion 

Through a unique anthropomorphic view and the integration of game-based learning, this case study explores how the Ebola virus can evade the immune response. In working through the case, students are challenged to examine the first, second and third lines of defense of the immune response and the weapons that the Ebola virus employs to remain undetected by the immune system. Students apply their knowledge of Ebola virus evasion of the immune response using an online game specifically developed to accompany the case. Initially designed to be implemented in a general biology, microbiology, or anatomy and physiology course, this case has also been used with advanced high school students. All characters are fictional. Students should have a preliminary understanding of the lines of defense of the immune response prior to working on the case, as well as foundational knowledge on viral structure, function and life cycles.


When a Gene Turned Off Is a Matter of Life or Death: Epigenetic Influences on Gene Regulation

When Jordan is diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), his college plans are unexpectedly put on hold. This scenario is presented in order to teach students about gene regulation, as the efficacy of the drug Jordan receives for post-surgical treatment is dependent upon the activity level of a gene encoding a protein involved in DNA repair. This “flipped” case study requires students to prepare in advance outside of class by watching several short videos that have been selected to teach the basics of how cancer forms as well as the role of epigenetics in gene silencing. Inside of class, the case is delivered using a progressive disclosure format in which students gradually receive additional information to answer a series of directed questions. To determine a treatment plan for Jordan, students analyze data from a research study involving patients treated for his specific type of cancer. The case is designed for advanced high school biology classes as well as lower-level undergraduate general biology courses for non-majors and majors.


When Work Makes You Sick: A Farmworker’s Experience in the Field

This case study was inspired by a real-life scenario, and follows the story of Roberto, a migrant farmworker whose health is impacted by the usage of pesticides on a farm.  With the help of a health care provider, Roberto becomes aware of the effects of pesticides on his well-being. Students utilize a database and draw conclusions from data in order to answer the case questions.  The case concludes with an activity that uses the "intimate debate" technique in which students use scientific data as evidence to argue whether or not the pesticide under discussion should be banned from usage.  This case was originally developed for undergraduate anatomy and physiology or toxicology courses. Students are expected to have some background knowledge in nerve structure and function as well as the mechanics of neural transmission before starting the case.