The skill set required of biomedical researchers continues to grow and evolve as biology matures as a natural science. Science necessitates creative yet critical thinking, persuasive communication skills, purposeful use of time, and adeptness at the laboratory bench. Teaching these skills can be effectively accomplished in an inquiry-based, active-learning environment at a primarily undergraduate institution. Cell Biology Techniques, an upper-level cell biology laboratory course at St. John Fisher College, features two independent projects that take advantage of the biology of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a premier yet simple model organism. First, students perform a miniature epigenetic screen for novel phenotypes using RNA interference. The results of this screen combined with literature research direct students toward a singe gene that they attempt to subclone in the second project. The biology of the chosen gene/protein also becomes an individualized focal point with respect to the content of the laboratory. Progress toward course goals is evaluated using written, oral, and group-produced assignments, including a concept map. Pre- and postassessment indicates a significant increase in the understanding of broad concepts in cell biological research.
Hurd, Daryl D. (2008). "A Microcosm of the Biomedical Research Experience for Upper-level Undergraduates." CBE-Life Sciences Education 7.2, 210-219.
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