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Winding your way through DNA

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Promise & Perils of Biotechnology: Genetic Testing

Teacher's Guide

Produced by the

University of California

San Francisco

Distributed by

Promise & Perils of Biotechnology: Genetic Testing

In Promise & Perils of Biotechnology: Genetic Testing students learn about inherited disorders, their prevalence in society, and the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing. As advances in biotechnology allow doctors to use genetic testing to identify more genetic conditions, the information not only helps expectant couples learn the health of their developing fetuses, but also confirms the presence of genetic conditions in children and adults. These findings pose ethical, legal and social dilemmas about how that information should be used.

This moving documentary profiles a young woman, with a family history of Huntington disease -- a disease with no known cure -- who decides to be tested. Also profiled is a mother and her young daughter who have changed their lifestyles to counteract their genetic odds in dealing with dangerously high cholesterol levels, known as familial hypercholesterolemia. The video captures people as they struggle with the realities of their conditions and focuses on diseases that do not segregate to one ethnic or cultural group, while not excluding others that do.

Comments on Promise & Perils of Biotechnology: Genetic Testing:

From students:

  • "...the most powerful [part] was telling about how genetic research will impact everyone in one way or another."
  • "We've watched a thousand videos, but this one was real -- I like it."
  • "...explained things in a simple way."
  • "...the film was great...understandable. I was able to pinpoint some of the things I've worked with in my class."
  • "...the film was put into a story rather than a plain lecture...made it more interesting."
  • "The people connected in finding out the genes of Laura and her daughter and Jennifer were caring and that's a reflection on the film."

From teachers (video):

  • "Ethics are left out of most textbooks; this helps fill the gap."
  • "It had the kids hooked...haven't been able to 'hook' them until now."
  • "...a good addition to biology and biotechnology courses."
  • "...brought out the personal side of science through ethical issues that students need to think about."
  • "It was a very motivating film; [students] want to know more about genetics now."

From teachers (teacher's guide):

  • "I love it. It's teacher-friendly and the materials it suggests are down-to-earth and realistic for today's budgets."
  • "They should have these for all videos...it's a great aid for teaching the subject matter."

Dear Educator...


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