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Murder by HIV? Grades 9-12 Edition


Author(s)

Laura B. Regassa
Department of Biology
Georgia Southern University
lregassa@georgiasouthern.edu
Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham
Department of Biological Sciences
Thompson Rivers University
ncheeptham@tru.ca
Michèle I. Shuster
Department of Biology
New Mexico State University
mshuster@nmsu.edu

Abstract

This case study gives students an opportunity to draw a conclusion about an actual crime that was prosecuted in Louisiana. A physician was accused of intentionally infecting his ex-girlfriend with HIV-tainted blood drawn from a patient in his practice.  The scientific investigation uses bioinformatics tools and relies on the ability to interpret phylogenetic trees.  Students develop hypotheses about the crime, then use sequences and online tools to generate a phylogenetic tree to test the hypotheses and render a verdict.  The authors have designed and implemented three parallel cases - one for Grades 5-8, one for Grades 9-12, and one for upper-division undergraduates, specifically for a course in molecular evolution.  This is the Grades 9-12 version.


Objectives

  • Identify and isolate DNA sequences from a public database.
  • Construct a phylogenetic tree.
  • Describe the basic properties of a phylogenetic tree.
  • Interpret data from several sources to draw conclusions.

Keywords

Phylogenetic tree; nucleotide sequences; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; viral life cycles; mutation rates; reverse transcriptase sequences; murder; crime; criminal investigation; forensics; Louisiana

Topical Areas

Ethics, Science and the media, Social issues

Educational Level

High school

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Molecular Biology  |   Bioinformatics  |   Forensic Science  |  


Date Posted

1/29/2013

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