New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Comments/Replies

Living With Her Genes

Early Onset Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Co Authors:

Lynne H. Gildensoph
Biology Department
St. Catherine University

Alice M. Stanford
Division of Science and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands

Deborah D. Wygal
Biology Department
St. Catherine University


When a 30-year-old genetic counselor learns that her 38-year-old sister has developed early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (EOFAD), a dominantly inherited disorder that led to their father's death at age 42, she struggles with whether to undergo genetic testing and whether to have children. This interrupted case study examines the impact of genetic testing on people and their families when there is no treatment or cure for a disease. It covers principles of Mendelian inheritance as well as genetic and reproductive technologies ,such as gene tests, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and in vitro fertilization. It can be used in introductory biology courses for both majors and non-majors or adapted for more advanced courses in genetics and molecular biology.

  • Understand what a hereditary disease is and how it is passed from parents to offspring.
  • Know what DNA is and how genes and the proteins they encode determine phenotype.
  • Understand how genetic testing is done and the variety of forms it can take.
  • Understand the role of reproductive technology in pre-natal genetic testing.
  • Understand that science and medicine do not take place in a vacuum.
Keywords: Alzheimer's; neurodegenerative disease; early onset; DNA; allele; APP gene; autosomal dominant; meiosis; genetic counselor; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; PGD; in vitro fertilization; IVF; Human Genome Project; bioethics
Topical Area: Ethics, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Jig-Saw
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Molecular Biology   Genetics / Heredity  
Date Posted: 08/19/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: