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Bad Fish: Cell and Molecular Biology Edition


James A. Hewlett
Science and Technology Department
Finger Lakes Community College


In this version, developed for classes in cell and molecular biology, the protagonist of the case, Dr. Westwood, survives an accidental poisoning-not once, but twice. Students read about each incident, applying what they learn in each part of the case to the later sections, and then design a drug to treat the neurotoxin poisoning described in the story. The case comes in three different versions, or editions. This is the Cell & Molecular Biology Edition, which has a different set of questions than the General Biology Edition or the Human Anatomy & Physiology Edition, also in our collection.


  • Apply basic principles of organic and inorganic chemistry to answer questions related to the case.
  • Apply the basic concepts of cell membrane structure and function to answer questions related to the case.
  • Explore the distribution of ions and charged molecules in the cellular environment.
  • Use knowledge of membranes and transport mechanisms to explore membrane potentials (resting and action potentials).
  • Use knowledge of membrane potentials to explore the structure and function of a neuron.
  • Be introduced to the concept of neurotoxins and their actions at the molecular level of cell function.
  • Use rational design to describe the mechanism of action of a drug that students design to treat neurotoxin poisoning.
  • Understand how molecules interact with each other to affect function.
  • Explore the difference between reversible and irreversible binding of molecules.
  • Understand the concept of the dissociation constant (Kd) and its use in understanding the strength of a molecular interaction.
  • Use basic experimental observations to explain the mechanism of action of an unknown neurotoxin.
  • Explore the difference between competitive and noncompetitive inhibition in molecular interactions.


Neurotoxin poisoning; toxin; tetrodotoxin; TTX; molecular interaction; ion channel; membrane transport / potential; action potential; neuron; nerve cell; nervous system; puffer fish; pitohui; songbird; Indonesia; Papua New Guinea

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods

Directed, Jig-Saw



Subject Headings

Cell Biology  |   Molecular Biology  |  

Date Posted


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