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Up All Night

Differentiating Diabetes


Natalie G. Farny
Department of Biology and Biotechnology
Worcester Polytechnic Institute


In this clicker case, students are introduced to George, an undergraduate student who has been experiencing some odd symptoms. His roommate convinces him to see a physician who recognizes that George's symptoms are consistent with diabetes mellitus; but is it type 1 or type 2, and how might you tell the difference? Participants in the case work together to obtain a diagnosis for George. The activity was developed as part of a larger project to increase case study teaching in anatomy and physiology by creating brief, modular, "plug-and-play" cases that are designed to easily integrate into more traditional class formats. The basic case presentation takes only 25-30 minutes of classroom time, with several suggestions for optional extensions within or outside the classroom. The case is formatted for easy use in large classrooms using clickers (personal response devices). The case was designed for an upper-level undergraduate course in anatomy and physiology, but could also be used in introductory biology, medical or nursing programs, or any human health-related courses.

  • Explain the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM).
  • Describe the most common laboratory tests used for the diagnosis of DM.
  • Explain how the differences in the root cause of disease in type 1 and type 2 DM relate to the laboratory tests used to differentially diagnose different forms of DM.
  • Read and interpret clinical laboratory data in charts and graphs.
  • Understand and appreciate the difficulties of obtaining a diagnosis for any disease with complete certainty.
Keywords: diabetes mellitus; type 1; type 2; differential diagnosis; insulin; C-peptide; glucose test; MODY; LADA
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Clinical education
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Clicker
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Physiology   Aerospace Engineering   Medicine (General)   Nursing   Anatomy  
Date Posted: 10/13/2016
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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