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A Question of Responsibility
Most students are aware that asbestos is a health hazard, but don’t know that “asbestos” refers to a variety of minerals with both useful and harmful properties. In this case, students answer questions they have about asbestos in the ...

A Simple Plan
This case study introduces students to Dr. E.L. Trudeau, who performed a seminal early experiment validating the germ theory of infection. Part I introduces Trudeau's Rabbit Island experiment, which is simple and easy for beginning or non-major student...

A Yellow-Bellied Lawyer?
This interrupted case study tells the story of Michael, a Harvard law graduate with a stressful job and a seemingly heavy drinking problem. Students are provided with background information, medical history, and lab results in order to guide them towar...

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...

Anencephaly in Yakima
This case study explores the recent (2010 - 2016) outbreak of neural tube defects, specifically anencephaly, in a rural three-county region of Washington state, particularly Yakima, WA. The case study focuses on the biological aspects of teratogens tha...

Antibiotic Resistance in a Russian Prison
In this case study, students will have the opportunity to model the spread of tuberculosis and development of antibiotic resistance in a hypothetical prison environment. After reading a brief handout and viewing a short video, students play a simulatio...

Black and Blue with Love
In this directed case study students follow a nurse practitioner and work with a diagnostics team to determine what is wrong with Tristan, an infant who comes to the clinic with multiple bruises. Students are given background and patient history, and a...

Blake's Illness
Blake is sick.  With his background in the sciences and a little help from the Internet, he should be able to do a self-diagnosis.  Or can he?  As the case unfolds, students follow the course of Blake's illness.  Part I of the case ...

Breast Cancer Risk
This case study takes a combined directed and discussion approach to explore risk factors for breast cancer. After a preparatory reading assignment, students assess various medical histories derived from actual women with breast cancer and rank their o...

CAMEL Question: Can Applied Math Extend Life?
This directed case study examines differences between the exponential and logistic growth models in biology and how they are applied to solve real life problems. The narrative follows a student returning to the United States as he tries to assess his p...

Campus Outbreak!
This PowerPoint-driven case study follows the progress of three undergraduate students as they attempt to model the rapid spread of an influenza outbreak to determine whether their local newspaper's claim that "40% of the campus has the flu" is accurat...

Cancer Cluster or Coincidence?
In this interrupted case study students analyze the complexities surrounding identification and confirmation of cancer clusters. The case challenges students to consider the evidence from two different perspectives; a local family physician representin...

Childbed Fever
This case describes the pioneering work of Ignaz Semmelweis and his efforts to remedy the problem of childbed fever in mid-19th century Europe.  Its purpose is to teach students about the scientific method by "dissecting" the various steps involve...

Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery
This interrupted case study focuses on the research of Dr. Beatrice Hahn, who investigates DNA sequences in chimpanzee droppings in order to explore the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Students first consider the types of data that c...

Cracking the Case
In this directed case study, students shadow Dr. Lee in diagnosing two patients with osteoporosis. The students are given patient history and an initial panel of test results, which they discuss in small groups. After diagnosis, they are asked specific...

Danielle's Difficulty
The incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), including severe infection, has increased in both institutional settings and the general community. This case study presents the story of an elderly woman who spent time in a hospital and...

Disease Along the River: A Case Study and Cholera Outbreak Game
This case study centers on an active teaching game that simulates a cholera outbreak among five villages along a river, similar to the Haitian outbreak of 2010. By enacting the behaviors of fictional villagers, students learn how trade, travel, sanitat...

East Meets West
Ying is sick and is progressively getting worse. His parents' clashing views on Eastern and Western medicine prevent them from agreeing on a course of treatment. As the case unfolds, students follow the progression of their son's illness. After a physi...

Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - Is There an Effect or Not?
This case is based on an actual news release reporting on research about the effects of eating Lake Ontario fish contaminated with PCBs. Developed to teach students about statistical analysis and experimental design, the case has been used in a senior-...

Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - The Clicker Version
This is a “clicker” adaptation of another case in our collection, “Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario: Is There an Effect or Not?” (2001), written by the same author. It encourages students to examine how scientific results get prese...

Gastronomic Gastroenteritis at The Fat Duck
This interrupted case study was inspired by and uses data from one of the largest commercial restaurant associated outbreaks of norovirus reported in the literature. It applies basic principles of epidemiology and outbreak investigation to a shellfish-...

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...

Hunting the Ebola Reservoir Host
This one-hour introduction to the study of infectious diseases uses recent research on the Ebola reservoir host to motivate students to consider the characteristics of a viral host species and how it can be identified. Presented in the form of an inter...

Is it a Lemon or a Lyme?
This dilemma case was designed for a junior level immunology course. It could also be used in a microbiology or bacteriology course where the emphasis is on treatment as well as disease. Although the case revolves around a particular microbe that cause...

Living the Sweet Life
In this directed case study, students assist Dr. Gupta in his endocrinology clinic in diagnosing three patients having problems with blood glucose regulation. In Part I, students are given patient backgrounds and results from laboratory tests generated...

Microbial Pie, or What Did You Feed the Neighbors?
The Emergency Room seems busier than usual, and the cases coming in are all too similar.  Everyone seems to be suffering from the same symptoms - abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.  Once the hospital staff identify the bacteria ca...

Patient Zero
Emerging diseases and potential pandemics make the news nearly every year. Students (and everyone else) may wonder where new infectious diseases come from, how scientists assess the risk of a pandemic, and how we might go about preventing one. This cas...

Return of the Whoop!
This interrupted case study outlines the history of pertussis or whooping cough, a disease that in the early 1900s claimed the lives of more people than diphtheria, scarlet fever, and measles combined. Whooping cough continued to afflict and kill a lar...

Salem's Secrets
This case study examines the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 1600s. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to analyze and critique data and help them understand the scientific method. Originally d...

Sarah's Sickness
This story is based on the true account of a student who suffered years of misdiagnoses of her illness while she was in a professional school. As the case evolves, students follow the course of Sarah's illness. Part I of the case details the signs of h...

Statins Stat!
This case study describes a visit by "Naomi" to her physician, who upon seeing Naomi's bloodwork decides to prescribe her a cholesterol-lowering agent, a statin. The case discusses (1) the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as atherosclerosis...

Streams of Coal or Streams of Death?
Mary Beth was raised in Western Pennsylvania, an area where thousands of abandoned coal mines have led to extensive contamination of streams and associated ground waters. Aquatic life has clearly suffered, but the health effects on people living along...

Sunny Skies and a Lurking Microbe
Based on a true story, this case study chronicles the development of a wound infection that began as a minor cut that occurred while carrying out a typical household task (moving furniture).  Identifying the causative agent ultimately took three s...

The 1st New Disease of the 21st Century
This case study uses a PowerPoint (~1MB) combined with role-playing to present the epidemiology and pathophysiology of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Students learn about the etiology and pathophysiology of the disease, and then argue differ...

The Case of a Tropical Disease and its Treatment
This case study highlights the epidemiological and socioeconomic factors associated with a disease which plagues thousands of people in Central and South America.  The case follows the story of Adrian, a banana plantation worker in southwestern Co...

The Case of the Newborn Nightmare
Three newborns left in the care of "Dr. Mark Maddison" have developed a mysterious rash. Under increasing pressure from hospital administrators and distressed parents, the doctor must diagnose and treat the infants. Students are given discrete pieces o...

The Mystery of the Blue Death
This historical case study describes the story of John Snow’s discovery of water-borne transmission of cholera in 19th-century London. Designed for use in a Global Health class, the case explores cholera outbreaks and their causes as well as mode...

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...

Tragic Choices: Autism, Measles, and the MMR Vaccine
This case explores the purported connection between vaccines in general, and the MMR vaccine specifically, and autism. Students examine results from the 1998 Lancet article that ignited and still fuels the anti-vaccine movement; students are t...

What Should the Victor Do with the Vanquished?
Smallpox, the worst infectious disease mankind has known, represents a major triumph as the first disease to be intentionally and completely removed from the human population. Although the disease was eradicated in 1980, the variola virus remains prese...

Why Was the 1918 Influenza So Deadly?
In this intimate debate, students examine the causes of the devastation wrought by the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Students consider whether the 1918 flu was exceptionally deadly because of its biology, or whether prevalent geopolitical-socioecono...

Zombie Attack!
Students assume the roles of CDC researchers who must determine how to most effectively stop an impending Zombie apocalypse. The story line leads students through the process of developing a mathematical model of a Zombie outbreak, which they then use ...