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Elizabeth R. McCain
Professor
mccain@muhlenberg.edu
Biology Department
Muhlenberg College
The Case of Eric, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and Stem Cell Research 

Thirty-one-year-old Eric has begun to show signs of the debilitating and fatal neuromuscular disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Students follow Eric as he is examined by his physician and then a specialist, undergoes a series of tests, and eventually is given the devastating prognosis. He is also given the news that a group of prominent scientists has begun human trials with embryonic stem cell therapy, which may offer a possible cure for his condition, and that he can participate in the experiment if he wishes. Students research and then prepare oral presentations on the perspectives of a variety of experts Eric might wish to consult as he weighs the science and ethics of his decision.


When Drug Sales and Science Collide 

When "Jeff," a fictionalized drug representative, is placed on the Vioxx® account in 2001, he finds himself pulled between sales and science as he struggles to reconcile three original documents: a Merck marketing pamphlet, a graph from a scientific journal, and a confidential internal bulletin. As students work through the case, they must interpret scientific data, consider ethical issues related to the pharmaceutical industry, and learn why Vioxx, a wonder drug, was taken off the market. This interrupted case is appropriate for advanced high school students and first-year college science majors and non-majors.