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Sonic Hedgehog

Genetic Abnormalities and Tissue Donations


Lauren E. Yaich
Division of Biological and Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford


In this case study about a baby born with the genetic condition holoprosencephaly, students explore the “Sonic hedgehog” gene, signal transduction, and the ethics of body and tissue donation. The assignment involves students writing an informed consent document that explains the science behind this congenital abnormality. Designed for an upper-level undergraduate biology course, the case could also be used in a cell biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, or other related upper-level course.

  • Discuss signal-transduction pathways and how they are involved in developmental events.
  • Discuss early braindevelopment and how defects in cellular signaling pathways can result in serious congenital abnormalities, such as holoprosencephaly.
  • Speculate upon ways that scientists might one day be able to detect or treat congenital abnormalities such as holoprosencephaly.
  • Discuss ethical and legal issues concerning tissue and cadaver donation for scientific research.
Keywords: Holoprosencephaly; Sonic hedgehog; Cyclops; brain development; signal transduction; cell signaling; birth defect; congenital defect; tissue donation; organ donation; medical research; bioethics
Topical Area: Ethics, Legal issues, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Cell Biology   Neuroscience   Genetics / Heredity   Developmental Biology  
Date Posted: 04/19/01
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.

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