Jim and the Forgotten Embryos
A Case on Stem Cell-Based Therapy
Department of Biology
University of North Georgia
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 accident. Jim is approached by a team of doctors to participate in a study where patients are injected with embryonic stem cells in the hopes that these cells will regenerate damaged nerve cells. The case follows Jim and his family as they grapple with the decision of participating in a study that leads to the destruction of embryos. This case study is based loosely on the story of Timothy J. Atchison, the Alabama college student who was the first patient to receive embryonic stem cells as part of a study to determine their effectiveness in treating spinal injuries. It was developed for a non-majors biology class, but can be adapted for use in an introductory biology course.
- To learn the basics about embryonic and adult stem cells.
- To learn about the source of embryonic stem cells.
- To learn how stem cells may be used therapeutically.
- To discuss the basis of the controversy behind embryonic stem cells.
KeywordsStem cells; stem cell therapy; cell-based therapy; stem cell research; embryonic stem cells; adult stem cells; pluripotent; mulitipotent; in vitro fertilization; IVF; bioethics
Topical AreasEthics, Social issues
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Biotechnology | Cell Biology |