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Nora S. Green
Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
Randolph-Macon College
Stomp the Stomach Bug: Designing Norovirus Inhibitors

Norovirus is one of the most common causes of infectious diarrhea and vomiting, leading to the nickname “winter vomiting disease.” The virus is estimated to be responsible for about half of all food-borne illnesses (CDC) due to its ability to spread rapidly when people are in close quarters, such as in classrooms, on college campuses, and cruise ships. This directed case study is written for an upper-level medicinal chemistry course after students have learned about the basics of drug discovery and design and then apply that knowledge to the development of a variety of different disease states and conditions. Students answer questions and analyze tables of actual data from a research article (Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (2015, 58, 3144–55). The case might also be used with benefit in courses that cover general viral mechanisms and structure (e.g., microbiology and virology) and enzyme kinetics (e.g., biochemistry and cell biology).

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway: Woolly Mammoth Hemoglobin and Extreme Adaptations

Woolly mammoths and other cold-adapted animals, such as reindeer and musk ox, developed a number of adaptations that allowed them to survive in frigid environments. These include small ears, thick fur, and even long tusks. Many of these species developed methods that preserve heat in the core and allow legs and feet to cool in the snow. Researchers, however, realized that cold extremities could pose a problem for the delivery of oxygen to the cells of those limbs and began to investigate the differences between the hemoglobin of cold-adapted and warm-adapted mammals. This directed case study examines the difference in hemoglobin structure between humans, Asian elephants, and woolly mammoths to provide insight into one of the important cold adaptations of the woolly mammoth. It was developed for the first semester of a two-semester, upper-level biochemistry sequence and was presented after students had learned the basics of protein structure, allosteric effectors, and human hemoglobin. This case could also be used in a single semester biochemistry course.