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Antibiotic Resistance

Can We Ever Win?


Maureen Leonard
Sciences Department
Mount Mary University


Resistance to antibiotics arose very shortly after these "wonder drugs" were first introduced.  This case study examines resistance to the most commonly used antibiotics, penicillin and its derivatives.  In particular, it examines a recent study that shows potential for restoring susceptibility to these antibiotics in MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  The case provides students with opportunities to collect and analyze data as well as interpret data from the new study.  The case was designed for use in an introductory college level biology or microbiology course.  Measuring, calculating means and standard errors, and graphing techniques are included, and this case can be used to introduce them or serve as practice.  The case can also be used in upper-level courses for the purpose of practicing data collection and analysis.

  • Practice the scientific method, with emphasis on asking scientific questions and deciding what data are appropriate to answer them.
  • Demonstrate organized data collection for students by allowing students to practice measurement and data collection, perform simple data analyses such as means and standard errors, and graph and interpret results.
  • Introduce or review enzyme function and bacterial cell wall structure.
  • Introduce the problem of antibiotic resistance and describe some alternate approaches in dealing with it.
Keywords: Antibiotic resistance; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; antibiotics; penicillin; methicillin; data analysis
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Microbiology   Evolutionary Biology   Medicine (General)   Science (General)   Public Health  
Date Posted: 12/3/2012
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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