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A Case Study Involving Influenza and the Influenza Vaccine
This interrupted case study presents a discussion about the benefits of the influenza vaccine between Mary, a nursing student, and her coworker, Karen. Karen is not convinced by Mary’s arguments in favor of vaccination, and she counters with seve...

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...

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...

Aliens on Earth?
The discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA was announced with much fanfare in 2010. It was immediately and very publicly critiqued by researchers posting their analyses of the paper on their blogs. The author...

An End to Ulcers?
This “clicker case” teaches students about the scientific method by following the story of the discovery of the cause of human gastric ulcers by two Australian biomedical scientists. Students see how the researchers followed up an unusual o...

An Infectious Cure
This four-part interrupted case on phage therapy was developed for a freshmen non-majors course in molecular biology. The case begins with a story inspired by real events where Europeans imposed a treatment for cholera on the unwilling population of an...

Antibiotic Resistance
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 st...

Between the Living and the Dead
As Jen pores over her introductory biology textbook, she falls asleep and enters a nightmarish world in which bacteria and viruses dwarf human beings. This engagingly written case explores the differences between viruses and bacteria while teaching abo...

Biological Terrorism
In the weeks following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to individuals in government and the news media. Thousands were treated for exposure, and five people were...

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 ...

Bringing Home More than a Medal
This case study was inspired by the Zika virus outbreak that occurred around the time of the 2016 Olympic Games. Many athletes were fearful of attending because of the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in infants. This concern, however...

BSL-4: Authorized Personnel Only
This case study is based on the 2014 Ebola epidemic that spread to multiple highly populated countries in West Africa, making it the largest and most devastating outbreak in the history of the virus. The storyline, inspired by a compilation of factual ...

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...

Chickens and Humans and Pigs, Oh My!
Influenza is a common topic in the popular press and a point of interest for many students.  This case study was written to promote interdisciplinary connections between upper division virology and immunology classes.  Students that participa...

Closing the Gap
In this problem-based learning/role playing case, students apply their knowledge of the biology of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral therapy to developing foreign aid policy for the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. The case was created for a non-majors...

Cooking Under Pressure
The Clarksons are making dinner for friends and decide to try out their new pressure cooker. As students read the dialogue that ensues, they learn about how the boiling point of water is directly related to external pressure, apply the ideal gas law, a...

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...

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...

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
This interrupted case study introduces the topic of bacterial sporulation and cannibalism in Bacillus subtilis. The storyline follows Susan and her lab mates who are presenting research at a lab meeting when Susan falls asleep and dreams they ...

Differential Diagnosis and Treatment of an Autoimmune Response
There are a number of medical disorders that mimic each other and accordingly prove problematic for diagnosis, including autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus), bacterial infections (syphilis), and arthropod borne ...

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...

Do You Really Know What You're Eating?
Starting from a fictional “news” report about an apparent allergic reaction to a taco tainted by genetically modified corn, students consider some of the techniques and procedures used in modern molecular genetics and microbiology as well a...

Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology
This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin "unusual mortality event" (UME) on the East Coast of the United States. The story follows a news reporter and four different scientists who are pre...

Dr. Collins and the Case of the Mysterious Infection
In this case study, Dr. Collins must diagnose and prescribe treatment for a young patient with a serious infection. Students receive pieces of the case in a progressive disclosure format and answer questions about bacterial infection, antibiotics, and ...

Drug Wars: An Epic Tale of Asthma and Bacterial Pneumonia
This case study is based on real events that the author experienced with her 10-year-old daughter. Although the names have been changed, all of the events (symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, types of healthcare professionals) are recorded exactly as they...

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...

ELVIS Meltdown!
In this interrupted case study, students assume the role of a microbiologist working at a chemical company that makes polyurethane. When a collection unit designed to pick up extraterrestrial (ET) samples (nicknamed ELVIS) returns to earth, much of the...

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...

Fannie’s Fix
This case study is targeted to the middle school science student and written especially with female students in mind. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it combines content from physical science and areas of biology (bacteriology, pathology) to tell ...

Farmville Future?
Life has changed for the rural residents of Farmville County since the arrival of four concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); the air has an odor, wildlife has decreased, and illnesses are on the rise. One of the town's residents has become ac...

Fecal Coliforms in Antarctica
In this interrupted case study, students explore the environmental consequences of Antarctic research as they design experiments to assess the impact of disposing untreated sewage from a research station into the ocean. Students review experimental met...

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-...

Helicobacter pylori and the Bacterial Theory of Ulcers
This case is an account of the events that led Drs. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall to the bacterial theory of ulcers. The two physicians refused to accept the standard explanations for what they had observed and instead developed an alternative hypoth...

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...

Hot and Bothered
This interrupted case study is a story about Carrie and her infant daughter Hayden who share similar symptoms: weight loss, metabolic abnormalities, and endocrine glands that just won't quit - as well as autoimmune complications. Students will eventual...

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 Iron Fertilization Good for the Sea?
This case study describes experiments to seed the ocean with iron to encourage algae growth. It explores how human activities contribute to greenhouse effects and global warming, proposals to potentially counteract these effects and make the ocean more...

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...

Just a Spider Bite?
This case relates the story of two fictional college students, Kristen and Brent, who discover that they are infected with Staphylococcus aureus. Brent recovers after using an antibiotic, but Kristen does not. It is later confirmed through tes...

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...

Nanobacteria
This case study was developed for a first-semester foundations course for biology majors. It is based on two conflicting reports in the scientific literature on the status of nanobacteria as living organisms in order to explore basic concepts related t...

No Longer Fond of the Local Pond
When an elementary school teacher calls in sick to work, she finds out that she is not the only one who will be missing school that day.  Children from her fifth grade class have also become ill and parents are calling to report the absences. The ...

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...

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...

Resurrection
This case study examines the molecular methods that were used to reverse engineer the 1918 influenza virus strain in order to try and solve the mystery of why it was so deadly. The story starts in the 1950s with the unsuccessful attempts to culture the...

Retro Goes Modern
This case study considers the evolution of HIV from SIV, as well as the evolution of HIV within humans by mutation rate. It also discusses the immune evasion proteins NEF and VPU, and how anti-retroviral drugs act to stall viral replication. Finally, t...

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...

Revolt on the Tuberculosis Ward
Monique is a 30-year-old Haitian woman with advanced pulmonary tuberculosis who has been transferred from a tuberculosis sanatorium to a large general hospital in Port au Prince after developing a secondary infection with Bacteroides fragilis ...

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...

Sick on a South American Sugarcane Plantation
This case study familiarizes readers with a disease that affects millions of people in Central and South America while illustrating a relatively uncommon route of transmission.  The narrative is based on reports of oral transmission of Trypano...

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...

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...

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...

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 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 Ebola Wars: General Edition
This case study introduces students to viruses and is suitable for a general biology course. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as a volunteer. While abroad, Terry comes into contact with a patient infected w...

The Fun in Fermentation
When covering the process of cellular respiration, advanced high school and undergraduate biology classes present fermentation as a means of anaerobic energy production in certain organisms and in muscle metabolism. Although most biology textbooks cove...

The Haemophilus Vaccine
This case study focuses on a young mother whose child attends a day care center where there has been an outbreak of bacterial meningitis. The case explores the need for health care workers to provide relevant medical information and advice to patients,...

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...

To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate
The case was prompted by a newspaper story about a couple who refused on religious grounds to have their son vaccinated even though vaccination is a requirement for admission to the public schools. It explores the issues surrounding the necessity and c...

Vikings on Mars
Three experiments carried out by the Mars Viking landers in 1976 remain, to this day, our only attempt to detect life on another planet. All other efforts have looked for the presence of elements or conditions thought to be necessary for life rather th...

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...

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...