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A Cure for Cancer?
This flipped case study begins with a video in which a student reveals a family member's diagnosis with breast cancer and then considers the whirlwind of questions that arise in such a situation. Students are asked to relate to the main character and i...

A Decision to Branch Out
In this flipped case study, students use the scientific method to investigate how changes in a few genes have shaped the evolution of maize plant architecture during domestication. To prepare for the case, students first watch a video developed by HHMI...

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 Family in Need: In-Class Case Study on Cancer Genetics
This case is designed as an in-class, problem-based learning activity for students to learn about several innovative medical applications of molecular biology. Students assume the role of a second-year medical student assigned to work with a pediatric ...

A Family in Need: Internet-Enhanced Case Study on Cancer Genetics
This problem-based learning case was designed for students to learn about several innovative medical applications of molecular biology. Students assume the role of a second-year medical student assigned to work with a pediatric oncologist who has just ...

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...

A Right to Her Genes
In this true story, students examine the case of a woman with a family predisposition to cancer who is considering genetic testing. Students learn about various aspects of DNA testing and determine how to counsel the woman. The case was designed for an...

A Sickeningly Sweet Baby Boy
When a newborn develops symptoms eerily similar to those of an older sibling who died shortly after birth, his Mennonite parents are understandably alarmed. They soon discover that their son has Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), a recessively inherited...

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...

As the Worm Turns
At what point in evolutionary development does a group of individuals become two distinct species? This case addresses that fundamental question by asking students to decide whether apple maggot flies are distinct as a species from hawthorn maggot flie...

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...

Bloodline: A Human Genetics Case
In this "clicker" case, based on a TV drama about a family secret that only knowledge of genetics can solve, students apply what they have read and heard about genetic diseases to determine familial relationships and predict the chance that a family me...

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...

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...

Can a Genetic Disease Be Cured?
In this discussion case, parents must decide whether or not to enroll their sons in an experimental treatment program designed to alleviate the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. The case explores the genetics and physiology of the disease as well as the ...

Chemical Eric Can't See
This autobiographical case study presents the story of Eric as he learns that he has a genetic eye disease, which progresses to the point that he becomes legally blind. The story is true and, in this respect, similar to another case by the same author ...

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...

Colon Cancer
In this case, developed for an introductory genetics class, students meet a woman whose family has a history of colon cancer. Students create a pedigree based on information from the case and discuss what it means to be genetically predisposed to cance...

Cow of the Future
In this case developed for an introductory general microbiology course, students consider concepts of bacterial genetics as they act as consultants to a foundation interested in funding innovative products. Students take the role of advising "the baron...

Cut It Out!
This directed case study was developed to introduce students to the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome editing. CRISPR-Cas9 has made numerous headlines in both the scientific and popular press, and thus serves as an excellent model for learning current biot...

Cystic Fibrosis
This PowerPoint-driven, flipped case study begins with a short video about a woman suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF) in the 1970s, a friend of the lead author's, whom she met in college and who died in her twenties. Hooked by this personal story, stu...

Dark Skin, Blond Hair
This interrupted case is based on a genome wide association study (GWAS) that identified the genetic variation causing some inhabitants of the Solomon Islands to have blond hair. The case illustrates the connection between genotype and phenotype, and a...

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 ...

Diagnosis of a Congenital Disorder
This progressive disclosure case study explores the medically-related issues of a female infant born with the congenital disorder Sirenomelia, more commonly known as "Mermaid Syndrome." The case starts with a high-risk mother participating in prenatal ...

Don’t Lose Your Head!
This whimsical case introduces students to the topic of dorsal/ventral (DV) axis formation in amphibians. After the recent birth of a good-sized clutch of eggs, Heather Pipiens is pleased to see that most of her little larvae are doing fine, but alarme...

Evolution and Plasticity in Guppies
This case study focuses on the relationship between evolution and plasticity using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach. Students view examples from the literature that illustrate the difference between nature and nurture, or the relative contributions o...

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...

Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis
This case is based on a research paper about the lignin content of genetically modified corn published in the American Journal of Botany. Students are asked to analyze and discuss the paper, focusing on questions related to experimental design...

FOXP2 and Speech
FOXP2 was first identified as a human language gene when a mutated version of the gene was found to cause speech problems in the KE family in London. In 2009, a research team transferred the cloned FOXP2 gene into mice and demonstrated that the FOXP2 t...

Gender: In the Genes or in the Jeans?
How are males and females different? Most people have a sex that is consistent on all levels: genetic, gonadal, internal genitals, external genitals. But sometimes there are discrepancies. This case explores the biology of human sexual differentiation ...

Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer
In this dilemma case, the central character, Kathy, must decide whether or not to be tested for known mutations in the breast cancer genes. Students assume the roles of members of Kathy’s book club and, using a jigsaw technique, explore the advan...

Genetics and a Transcontinental Romance
Annika is a PhD student from Sweden who spends two years in the Solomon Islands to complete her fieldwork. During her stay in the South Pacific she experiences a few surprises related to the hair color not only of the locals, but also of her own baby g...

Giving Birth to Someone Else's Children?
Most students have heard about situations in which the paternity of a child is questioned, but maternity? This case was designed for introductory biology students and asks them to develop hypotheses to explain how a mother cannot be geneticall...

Glowing Plants on Kickstarter
This case study is centered on a real scenario from 2013 in which the Kickstarter fundraising platform included a fundraising proposal from a group wanting to use synthetic biology to make glowing plants. The proposal raised controversy because the Glo...

Hemophilia
This case deals with the genetics of the hemophilic condition that afflicted the royal families of Europe.  Students trace the pedigrees of the descendants of Queen Victoria and the passage of the recessive X-linked trait from ancestor to ancestor...

How Many More Thymes? A Case of Phytochemical Defense
This clicker case addresses several concepts related to the evolutionary ecology of herbivore defenses. A survey of several different studies that investigated chemical defenses in Thymus vulgaris (thyme) gives students the opportunity to deve...

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...

Identical Twins, Identical Fates?
This case tells the story of Elise, a college freshman whose identical twin sister has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Elise is concerned about her own risk for developing this disease. Through her research and interactions with a physician...

Immunological Malfunction?
This case study was developed to complement the study of the immune system and to emphasize the crosstalk that occurs at the cellular level between B and T cells for proper immune system function. In reading the story of a young couple trying to unders...

In Sickness and in Health
In this interrupted case study, Greg and Olga, a young couple planning a family, have decided to see a genetic counselor because of a family history of genetic disease. Students construct a pedigree from the information presented in the case; then, on ...

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...

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...

Josie
In this interdisciplinary case, students meet Josie, the main character, who suffers from a variety of symptoms. Students must grapple with the conflicting data presented, which ultimately leads them to a diagnosis of either porphyria or schizophrenia....

King Tut's Family Secrets
This "clicker case" is based on several articles published in 2010 that determined the genealogy of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun based on microsatellite DNA analysis. The case begins with a description of the seven royal mummies found in Va...

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...

Living With Her Genes
When a 30-year-old genetic counselor learns that her 38-year-old sister has developed early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (EOFAD), a dominantly inherited disorder that led to their father's death at age 42, she struggles with whether to unde...

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...

Mathematics in Conservation
This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Florida panther. An endangered population is unlikely to survive simply due to its small population size. B...

Mendel Dreams
In this PowerPoint-based clicker case, developed for use in either a general biology or general genetics class, students are introduced to the life and work of Gregor Mendel.  The initial slides set up the story as we see Mendel, who is ill, remin...

More Than Meets the Eye
The classic example of a human trait that behaves in a clear Mendelian fashion is human eye color. The gene that controls it exists in two forms: a dominant brown allele and a recessive blue allele. But the genetics of eye color is more complex than ty...

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...

Nature or Nurture
This case explores the question of whether gender identity is determined strictly by genetics (nature) or social variables (nurture).  It is based on a true story about a man who was raised as a girl and later rejected the female gender identity.&...

Not Exactly...
This case study follows a young couple that is consulting with a genetic counselor about their plans to have a child. Because of their family history with cystic fibrosis, they are concerned about their chances of having a child with this genetic disea...

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 ...

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...

Pharmacogenetics: Using Genetics to Treat Disease
This case study investigates the applications of genetics to medicine by exploring one of the first examples of a pharmacogenetic test to enter mainstream clinical practice. Pharmacogenetics examines how genetic variations in an individual correlate wi...

PKU Carriers
In this interrupted case study, students read about a college student with phenylketonuria (PKU).  Students learn how diet affects a person with PKU and how PKU is inherited. The case is designed to introduce introductory biology students to the H...

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...

Putting the Pieces Together: The Discovery of DNA Structure and Replication
This case study provides an overview of the seminal experimental work that led to the discovery of DNA structure and the confirmation of the semi-conservative model of DNA replication. By guiding students through a chronological series of historic expe...

Rice ’n Beans or Ricin Beans?
Taylor must write a report about a natural toxin while she is home from college on break. After a family dinner conversation about the latest attempt to poison a politician via a letter, Taylor decides to explore how ricin acts as a poison. Students wo...

Seeds of Dissension
A possible act of industrial espionage is the backdrop for this case study, which introduces students to analytical techniques routinely used in most areas of biotechnology, including forensic science and paternity suits. In this fictional case, "Roger...

Selecting the Perfect Baby
This dilemma case is based on the true story of Jack and Lisa Nash, whose daughter Molly was born with a rare genetic disorder, Fanconi anemia. By having another child with specific genetic markers, the Nashes hoped to cure Molly using stem cells from ...

Skinny Genes?
This case study introduces Megi, an active teenager who has recovered from anorexia nervosa.  The method of progressive disclosure is used to take students back in time as Megi recalls the physical and psychological aspects of her illness and t...

SNPs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, and That's What People Are Made Of
In this case on genome privacy, students work together to research one of six assigned lobbying groups’ views in this area and then present their groups’ positions before a mock meeting of a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee as the...

Sometimes It Is All in the Genes
Nancy, five months pregnant, agrees to a routine genetic test that indicates she carries the mutation for the fatal disease, cystic fibrosis. She convinces her husband to get tested and discovers that he too is a carrier. Knowing that there is a 25 per...

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...

Super Bug
Sam, a pre-med college student, routinely gets dialysis and develops a urinary tract infection. The infection is from a bacterium that the news media is calling a "superbug" from India. Sam does some internet searches to find out more information about...

The Boy in the Temple
This interrupted case study examines molecular genetic evidence reported in scientific literature to determine the fate of Louis-Charles, son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette of France. Controversy and rumors surrounding the death of Louis-Charles sug...

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 Baby Joe
This interrupted case study follows the declining health of an infant who suffers from recurrent infections and finally is diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). The case was developed for use in an undergraduate upper-level immunology...

The Case of Desiree's Baby
This case is based on Kate Chopin’s short story “Desiree’s Baby,” a tragic tale of race and gender in antebellum Louisiana first published in 1893. Students read the story and then answer a series of questions about the genetics...

The Case of the Malfunctioning Neuron
This flipped case study tells the story of Joyce, a biology student who notices the development of some unusual symptoms (foot slapping and slurred speech) in her mother. In an effort to understand the cause, Joyce views a documentary-style trigger vid...

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 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 Death of Baby Pierre
This directed case study on a genetic disorder was developed for an exam on genetics for a general biology course.  The case is based on an article by scientist and author Jared Diamond titled “Founding Fathers and Mothers” that appear...

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 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 Mona Lisa Molecule: Mysteries of DNA Unraveled
This case study details the historical discovery of the structure of DNA. Images of this key molecule are as iconic as those of the Mona Lisa, and identifying its structure has proven to be as intriguing a mystery for scientists as the reason behind Mo...

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 Wolfman and the Chromosomal Basis of Heredity
This “clicker case” tells the story of Danny Gomez, a Mexican circus performer, and his family in order to teach basic principles of genetics and chromosomal inheritance. Five generations of the Gomez family suffer from a very rare disease ...

Thomas and Sally
Did Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, have children with his slave Sally Hemings? This PowerPoint clicker case explores this controversial question as students consider the evidence for Jefferson as the father of Eston Hemings, as...

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...

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...

To the Bitter End
This interrupted case dramatizes the discovery of a Mendelian trait in humans, namely the variation in the ability to taste the chemical phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). By examining data and questions related to this trait, students will draw connections be...

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...

Torn at the Genes
The setting for this case is the family dinner table, where a heated discussion about genetically altered foods is taking place. Marsha Cumberland’s brother-in-law has joined the family for dinner. Ed is an industry official whose job it is to de...

When a Gene Turned Off Is a Matter of Life or Death
When Jordan is diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), his college plans are unexpectedly put on hold. This scenario is presented in order to teach students about gene regulation, as the efficacy of the drug Jordan receives for post-surg...

Which Came First, the Mutation or the Antibiotic?
This case study presents the story of Phil, an undergraduate majoring in biology, whose Russian cousin Dimitri has contracted tuberculosis (TB) from inmates at the prison where he works.  Phil learns that his cousin's failure to complete his antib...

Which Little Piggy Went to Market?
In this case study, a scientist is contacted by a friend from a meat processing plant who is looking for a test to determine the sex of the animals that contributed to a particular batch of meat. He needs to know because meat from uncastrated males (bo...

Why Did the Snake Cross the Road?
Although Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is a fundamental part of introductory biology classes, students often have difficulty understanding its implications. This interrupted case study places students in the role of small teams who are conducting prelimin...

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...

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...