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Telah A. Wingate
Undergraduate Student
Department of Biology
North Carolina A&T State University
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself: Using Precision Medicine to Target Breast Cancer and the Cell Cycle

This case study relates the actual experiences of a woman with breast cancer as she shares her experiences through a series of blog posts at various stages of treatment (diagnosis, mastectomy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and maintenance). Students will interpret her actual pathology report and learn that an individual’s genetic makeup determines whether certain drugs are metabolized effectively, and how dosing and drug choice may change depending on which metabolizing enzymes are present.  In the context of precision medicine, “knowing yourself” is just as important as “knowing your enemy.” Students conclude the activity by interpreting graphical data that reveals health disparities in the United States and across the world, and consider causal implications of those disparities. The case is especially suited for an introductory biology course, but could easily be adapted for a higher-level cell, molecular biology or genetics class. Health sciences courses such as nursing or introductory pharmacology may also find it useful.