In this activity, students work in teams to analyze a case study that raises arguments for and against patenting the genetic code. Using two other case studies, they also explore the implications of creating DNA databases and screening newborns for genetic diseases. Then they do an interactive Web activity that helps them explore the implications of genetic modification. Finally, they write editorials about the ethical issues related to decoding the human genome.
- Identify the ethical issues surrounding the patenting of genes
- Understand the implications of DNA databases and newborn screening
- Consider the ramifications of being able to genetically modify our offspring
- One or two class periods (One if they write the editorial as homework)
- Who Owns the Genome? QuickTime Video
- Genetics Case Studies HTML Document
- DNA Databases QuickTime Video
- Genetic Modification QuickTime Video
- Should We Create Babies by Design? HTML Interactive
- Copies of theGenetics Case Studies
Before the Lesson
- Make copies of theGenetics Case Studies for each team.
- If time allows, do theApp Exception: tdc02.sci.life.gen.lp_hgpwhat lesson.
1. Show the video Who Owns the Genome?. As a class, discuss the following:
- Why is sequencing the human genome considered such an important and historic event?
- What effects might patenting genes have on current research efforts?
- Do you think genes should be patented? Why or why not?
2. Have students work in teams to read and answer questions for the case study "Patenting of Genes." Ask each team to appoint a spokesperson to report their answers.
3. Show the DNA Databases video. As a class, discuss the following:
- What are some of the ethical issues surrounding the creation of DNA databases?
- What are some of the implications of creating DNA chips that would allow doctors to screen newborns for many diseases?
4. Have students work in teams to read and answer questions for one of the following case studies: "Newborn Screening" or "Genetic Discrimination." Ask each team to appoint a spokesperson to report their answers.
5. Show students the Should We Create Babies by Design? Web activity in pairs. Take a class survey at the end about whether the benefits of new genetic tools outweigh the risks. Compare the class results to the online survey.
6. Have students write a newspaper editorial about their views on one or more of the ethical issues related to decoding the human genome. Make sure they support their opinions with information gathered from the videos and Web activities.