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A Devil of a Disease
Since its first recorded appearance in 1996, Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has wiped out an estimated 70 percent of the Tasmanian devil population. Scientists considered bacterial, viral, chemical, parasitic, and genetic causes before det...

A Diet to Die For
This clicker case is designed to lead students to a conceptual understanding of oxidative phosphorylation (and, by analogy, photosynthesis). Students begin with a pre-class handout that presents background information on DNP, a weight-loss drug that wa...

A Different Kind of Stress
Protein folding and trafficking is essential for normal cell function, and when it goes awry it can lead to various chronic conditions, including fatty liver disease, diabetes, and Parkinson's. The narrative of this case study follows two undergraduate...

A Metabolic Storm
This "clicker" case presents the true story of a 20-year-old athlete who developed a life threatening reaction to anesthesia during a simple elective surgical procedure. His response was unexpected, but not unusual for individuals who possess an inheri...

African Illness: A Case of Parasites?
This case is based on a British patient presenting to a hospital with an array of symptoms after returning from an African safari. Students learn about potential causes of the symptoms based on the patient's potential exposure to parasites endemic to A...

Agony and Ecstasy
This “clicker case” follows Susan, an intern at a local hospital, who has admitted a patient she discovers has used the drug Ecstasy. The girl becomes delirious, and Susan begins to suspect that she may be suffering from water intoxication....

Am I a Girl, or a Boy?
A baby is born with ambiguous genitalia to parents from the Dominican Republic and is determined to be a female based on general appearance.  At the child's 12-year-old checkup, the parents and the child are distraught as they report to the pediat...

Baby Doe v. The Prenatal Clinic
This "clicker case" presents a fictionalized story about a couple ("John" and "Jane") whose new baby is born with Down syndrome; the parents are suing the prenatal clinic where Jane received her care, blaming the clinic for the baby’s condition. ...

Bad Fish, Bad Bird
This "clicker case" is based on the General Biology edition of James Hewlett’s “Bad Fish” case in our collection. The case follows the story of biologist Dr. Westwood, who is accidentally poisoned, first while traveling in Asia and th...

Bad Fish: Cell and Molecular Biology Edition
In this version, developed for classes in cell and molecular biology, the protagonist of the case, Dr. Westwood, survives an accidental poisoning-not once, but twice. Students read about each incident, applying what they learn in each part of the case ...

Bad Fish: General Biology Edition
In this version, developed for a course in general biology, the protagonist of the case, Dr. Westwood, survives an accidental poisoning-not once, but twice. Students read about each incident, applying what they learn in each part of the case to the lat...

Brain Workouts
This directed case study follows two college roommates, Darrell and Anthony, who have just returned to school after winter vacation. They share that their ageing fathers are concerned about their declining faculties and are amused by their fathers' eff...

Bringing Back Baby Jason
This dilemma case, designed for use in an undergraduate genetics course, explores the basic genetic concepts underlying the cloning process as well as the ethical, medical, political, economic, and religious issues surrounding human cloning. While the ...

But I'm Too Young!
In this “clicker case,” students are introduced to Abby, a college student who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As they follow Abby’s plight, students learn about basic cellular and genetic mechanisms that are responsible for c...

Classic Experiments in Molecular Biology
All introductory biology textbooks, and many sophomore-level genetics textbooks as well, describe several classic experiments in molecular biology. This interrupted case study takes students through two of these classic experiments, namely, those by Gr...

Cross-Dressing or Crossing-Over?
In this “clicker case,” students learn about sex determination, meiosis, and chromosomal “crossing over” through the story of Santhi Soundararajan, an athlete from Kathakkurichi, India, who was stripped of a medal at the 2006 As...

Diabetes and Insulin Signaling
Cellular signaling, otherwise known as signal transduction, is the mechanism by which cellular context and environmental situation are used to regulate or adjust cellular behavior. Multicellular organisms use cellular signaling to coordinate responses ...

Earthquakes Damage Cells, Too
Cholera is a commonly explored disorder when teaching transmembrane transport. Expanding on this theme, this case study also introduces intracellular and extracellular signal transduction, the physiological basis of rehydration treatments, and provides...

Evolution in Action
This case study is based on Dr. Richard Lenski’s ongoing studies of evolution in E. coli. Students are introduced to prokaryotic biology and to Lenski’s studies based on serial broth cultures of E. coli, which have been mo...

Face the Fats
This clicker case introduces students to the biochemistry of lipids through the story of Pete, a college student who begins to consider his nutritional fat intake after watching a commercial for the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin. In this case, stud...

From Cow Juice to a Billion Dollar Drug, With Some Breakthroughs in Between
Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. Despite the successful management of diabetes with purified animal insulin, potentially severe side effects were abundant, and alternative ways to produ...

From Gummy Bears to Celery Stalks: Diffusion and Osmosis
This is an interrupted case study that intersperses information about diffusion and osmosis with content review and knowledge application questions, as well as a simple experiment that can be conducted without the use of a laboratory. This case study i...

Hidden in Plain Sight
As nonliving entities, viruses face specific challenges when replicating in a host.  Avoiding the host immune system is something that every virus aims for in order to successfully reproduce itself and infect another host.  Many viruses repli...

Holes in the Matter
This case centers on a fictional group of young adults who studied abroad together in Scotland as college students. A number of them develop disease symptoms and die a few years after the trip. The cause of death is determined to be a prion disease. Ap...

I Scream for Ice Cream
Lactose intolerance, caused by a lack of persistent lactase enzyme expression, is a trait commonly observed in adult humans, with varying geographic prevalence depending on dietary habits in different cultures. This case study follows a diverse group o...

It’s All Greek to Me: Genetics Edition
Stephania and Nikolaus Stamos are concerned about their baby daughter. They take her to her pediatrician, who immediately notices that the once bright and active child is small for her age, pale, lethargic, and has a swollen abdomen. Students examine t...

Jim and the Forgotten Embryos
The goal of this case study is to expose students to the basics of embryonic stem cells, their therapeutic uses, and the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells through the story of a college student, Jim Allison, who becomes paralyzed after a car...

Joel E. Greengiant Learns About Peas
This case study follows purveyors of peas, Joel E. and Jolene Greengiant, as they learn about the origin, biochemistry, genetics and eventual artificial selection of sweet (wrinkled) peas, all in the context of evolutionary biology. This integrative ap...

Lee Family Problems: The Yin and Yang of Membrane Physiology
This interrupted case study follows "Elaina Lee" and her family through a series of medical mishaps. Elaina suffers a reaction to an overdose of an herbal remedy prescribed to her while studying abroad in Africa. Upon returning home, she feels unwell a...

Little Girl Lost: A Case Study on Defective Cellular Organelles
This case study introduces students to the structure and function of cellular organelles and seeks to show their importance by discussing diseases and disorders that can result when an organelle does not function as it should. The storyline follows a f...

Little Mito
This case presents a fanciful story about the origin of the eukaryotic cell, a major milestone in the evolution of life. The characters of the story are Mito, Chlora, Flag, ER, Nuc, Golgi, Ves, and Ly, all members of an extended cellular family. Writte...

Magic Bullets
This clicker case was designed to teach students about basic enzyme structure, mechanisms of enzyme inhibition, and mechanisms of drug resistance. The story follows Oliver Casey, a patient afflicted with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). CML is cause...

Make a Life to Save a Life
In this “clicker case,” students learn about meiosis through the real-life story of a couple who used pre-implantation genetic screening to select an embryo that was a genetic match for an older sibling with leukemia, and thus able to provi...

More Than Just a Cough: Exploring the Role of the Cytoskeleton in Fertility
This interrupted case study explores the role of cytoskeletal structures on human health, specifically on respiratory function, sperm motility, and female fertility. It follows the story of a couple struggling to conceive a child and the doctors workin...

Mother's Milk Cures Cancer?
This case study on the immune system, cell cycle regulation, and cancer biology explores the role that serendipity plays in new discoveries in science, how scientific research is funded, and the personal and professional implications of unexpectedly fi...

mRNA Processing
This clicker case study follows a dialogue between two college students, Lucy and Dan, as they discover how alternative splicing of mRNA molecules can allow a single gene to code for multiple proteins. Dan is participating in a clinical trial for a dru...

My Dog is Broken!
Cell signaling is one of the more difficult concepts for students to understand in their study of cell biology. To help students better understand the process of cell signaling, from reception to cellular response, a fairly simple signal pathway is use...

New Ways to Breathe
This case study follows a young cystic fibrosis (CF) patient named Lucas. Through Lucas's story and interactions between his parents and pediatrician, students learn about the scientific background and basis of CF. By reviewing email correspondence bet...

Newsflash! Transport Proteins on Strike!
This role-play case study teaches students about plasma membrane transport and the functions of transport proteins in the phospholipid bilayer. Students act out the parts of molecules and structures in a fantastical cellular world where the unionized t...

Oh, What a Difference a Carbon Can Make!
Sarah, trapped in the middle of a two-hour lecture on enzyme inhibition, attempts to escape by asking a question. She relates an old story she heard about some teenagers who drank from bottles of antifreeze marked "alcohol." Half of them died, but thos...

One Tablet a Day May Keep Cancer Away
This dilemma/decision case study is intended to demonstrate how knowledge of signal transduction pathways can be applied to the pharmaceutical industry and within a medical setting. The case scenario revolves around a physician scientist's analysis of ...

Osmosis is Serious Business!
This directed case study involves two “stories,” each one concerned with some aspect of osmosis in living cells. Part I is centered around the effects of a hypertonic environment on plant cells, while Part II focuses on the effects of a hyp...

Osmosis is Serious Business! Hebrew Translation
This directed case study, translated from the original English into Hebrew, involves two “stories,” each concerned with some aspect of osmosis in living cells. Part I is centered around the effects of a hypertonic environment on plant cells...

Pharmacogenetics: How Genetic Information Is Used to Treat Disease
In this clicker case, two teenagers are diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the bone marrow where there is an abnormal overproduction of lymphocyte precursors. The girls' reactions to treatment are very different, however, du...

Poor Devils
Cancer is usually thought to be a disease that affects individuals. But could cancer evolve to become infectious? This case follows the research on a form of transmissible cancer that is decimating the Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest carnivo...

Resistance is Futile - Or Is It?
While the majority of people are prone to HIV infection, some individuals remain uninfected despite repeated exposure. This case study is based on the landmark paper by Paxton et al. (1996) that uncovered some of the mechanisms of protection against HI...

Resistance Is Futile, Or is It? The Clicker Version
This clicker case is an adaptation of a case by Annie Prud'homme-Généreux that was originally published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science titled "Resistance Is Futile ... or Is It? The Immunity System and HIV Infec...

Saving Superman
Using a combination of directed case method and role-playing in which students learn about their roles using the jigsaw technique, this case study teaches about the main concepts of stem cell research and therapy and the political and ethical issues su...

Sickle Cell Anemia
In this case study on sickle cell anemia, students are introduced to some of the key researchers responsible for determining the molecular basis of the disease and learn about the functioning of erythrocytes as well as the notion that changes in the en...

Sonic Hedgehog
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 info...

Stem Cells: Promises to Keep?
Samantha and her husband Brad have two children, conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization treatments. After viewing a TV program on stem cells and their potential medical uses, Samantha is convinced that they should donate the remaining frozen...

Stem Cells: Promises to Keep? Clicker Case Version
This clicker case is based upon the case "Stem Cells: Promises to Keep" written by Lauren E. Yaich and published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. The case is formatted as a PowerPoint presentation (1.5 MB) punctuated by quest...

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning
In this “clicker case,” students read about a college student who becomes sick. As they set out to identify the cause of the illness, students learn about the differences between viruses, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes in order to decide which...

Tazswana’s Story
In this directed case study, students read about a little girl with beta-thalassemia, a life-threatening disease. Through a series of increasingly complex activities, they learn how alternative pre-mRNA processing (splicing) has caused her disease and ...

The Campus Coffee Shop
Since caffeine is a widely used substance, especially by college age students, this case on the effects of caffeine on the human body serves as a real-world connection to many students’ lives. The case is divided into sections covering background...

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...

The Case of the Dividing Cell
The Honorable Judge Cellular is presiding over the case of The State vs.Egg Cell Number 6624223. As the prosecuting attorney calls each witness to the stand and the courtroom drama unfolds, students learn about the stages of mitosis and meiosi...

The Case of the Tainted Taco Shells: Advanced Edition
This case discusses some of the issues associated with the use of genetically modified plants, including ecological risks, resistance, and allergenicity. The case has two versions, or editions.  The "General Edition," also published on this site, ...

The Challenge of Epilepsy
This case study was originally developed for undergraduate science students as part of an extracurricular competition, but it could also be delivered as a directed case. Accordingly two versions of the activity are included. Each version requires stude...

The Curious Case of the Carbon Copy Kitty
After the media coverage of Dolly the sheep and pet cloning, most students in a general biology or general genetics course will have heard of animal cloning, but it is also common for them to hold a number of misconceptions about the science of mammali...

The Ebola Wars: Advanced Edition
This case study was written for upper level undergraduate and graduate students to review foundational aspects of virology and to examine Ebola virus infection in detail. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as...

The Evolution of Color Vision in Monkeys
This case study examines the evolution color vision in Old World and New World monkeys from multiple biological perspectives. This integrative approach employs both problem-based learning techniques and directed questions as students move through a ser...

The Evolution of Human Skin Color
While the concept of evolution by natural selection is very simple, it is often misunderstood by students. This is partly due to preconceptions they have as well as a lack of understanding or emphasis on the idea that reproductive success (and not surv...

The Interview: Hemoglobin vs. Myoglobin
This case study examines the structure of hemoglobin and myoglobin and how the structure of these molecules dictates their function. The case is written as a play in which several candidates have responded to a help wanted ad seeking an employee with a...

The Lady of Charleston?
This case uses the real story of Dawn Langley Simmons, who may have been misidentified as male at birth, to illustrate the developmental basis of human sexual dimorphism and how gender misidentification may occur. Students also consider the emotional, ...

The Mystery of the Seven Deaths
In this interrupted case study, students learn about the function of cellular respiration and the electron transport chain and what happens when that function is impaired. The case is loosely based on the real-life 1982 Chicago Tylenol murders where se...

The Physiology of a Neurodegenerative Disease
In this case, a young woman learns that her uncle has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. She talks with her fellow graduate students to try to better understand the physiology of the disorder, along with the medical and personal implicatio...

The Secret of Popcorn Popping
Focusing on the important role of water in living cellular chemistry, this case emphasizes the general solubility rule, "like dissolves like," which explains how water can serve as a medium for transporting the cell's soluble nutrients and wastes. The ...

The Unfortunate Nurse
Dengue (pronounced "deng-ee") is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, usually Aedes aegypti. It is common in tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia, India, South and Central America, and Mexico. There is conc...

Those Old Kentucky Blues
This interrupted case study begins with the construction of a pedigree following an initial encounter with a clan of “blue people.” After constructing a pedigree, students decide whether the condition (methemoglobinemia) is a heritable trai...

Three Cases from the Membrane Files
This PowerPoint-driven case study presents three different stories, each of which explores an aspect of membranes. The first (The Exploding Fish) covers diffusion, specifically addressing the question of why animal cells explode in freshwater but fish ...

To Be or Not to Be ... an Inhibitory Neurotransmitter
Jessica and George are students struggling to understand the forces which control ions moving across membranes.  For the nervous system in particular, ions create the electrical signals neurons use to communicate with one another.  Jessica is...

Too Many B Cells
Taylor's doctor notices she has swollen lymph nodes and an elevated white blood cell count on her routine annual exam and asks her to return for a follow-up flow cytometry test to rule out chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Students follow along as Ta...

Water Can Kill?
This case study presents three true stories of people who suffered fatal hyponatremia (low sodium concentration in their body fluids) after consuming excessive amounts of water. Students examine the tonicity of the extracellular environment created by ...

Who Killed Yew?
The purpose of this case is to teach introductory college biology students the basic process of mitosis, focusing on the fundamental cellular processes that occur during each of the stages-prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cyto...

Why Does Grandpa Ignore Grandma?
Carla, a first semester graduate student in audiology, has noticed that her grandfather appears to be having trouble hearing what her grandmother says. Other people in the family can’ help but notice it too as it becomes a source of increasing ag...

Why Is He Different from Both Parents?
This case study was developed to teach the topic of human ABO blood type and genetic inheritance in biology courses at the lower undergraduate level or upper high school level. It is suitable for entry level biology, genetics, and physiology courses. T...

Woe to That Child
Alvin’s parents are worried about him. He has had a cough for almost a week, and he’s wheezing a lot more than they think is normal for a child with a cold, which is what their family pediatrician says he has. When they take him to the ER, ...

Wrestling with Weight Loss
In this interrupted case study, a young wrestler considers purchasing 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) online as a means to drop weight quickly. However, a finding that it may have killed someone concerns him. Through progressive disclosure of information, stud...

You Are Not the Mother of Your Children
This case is based on a true story of a woman whose children were almost taken from her because her DNA profile indicated that she was not the mother of her children. The interrupted case study follows the woman, her lawyer, and a research biologist as...

Yvette's Brave Battle
This case is based on the true story of a woman with choriocarcinoma, a rare type of rapidly dividing and metastatic cancer derived from cells of the placenta. The case begins with Yvette being admitted to a hospital due to neurological irregularities....