Murder by HIV? Undergraduate Edition
Department of Biological Sciences
Thompson Rivers University
Department of Biology
Georgia Southern University
Department of Biology
New Mexico State University
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 undergraduate version.
- Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of molecular evolution via a relevant case study in virology.
- Use available bioinformatics tools.
- Compare sequences and construct phylogenetic trees.
- Demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Address societal issues using practical application of skills.
KeywordsPhylogenetic tree; nucleotide sequences; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; viral life cycles; mutation rates; reverse transcriptase sequences; murder; crime; criminal investigation; forensics; Louisiana
Topical AreasEthics, Science and the media, Social issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Molecular Biology | Bioinformatics | Forensic Science |
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