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Cancer Discovery Activities

By HHMI BioInteractive

These two hands-on activities are based on a Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2013 Holiday Lectures on Science video ( featuring researcher Dr. Charles L. Sawyers.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group HHMI BioInteractive

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Version 1.0 - published on 17 Jan 2018 doi:10.25334/Q46X1W - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms

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Spanish versions of these resources are also available for download (en Español).

Students begin by watching the online video clip and completing a worksheet. After that assignment, instructors can decide which of the two activities (or both!) to use in class. In Activity 1, students identify the locations on chromosomes of genes involved in cancer, using a set of 139 “Cancer Gene Cards” and associated posters. In Activity 2, students explore the genetic basis of cancer by examining cards that list genetic mutations found in the DNA of actual cancer patients. Small-group work spurs discussion about the genes that are mutated in different types of cancers and the cellular processes that the affected genes control.

The Activity 1 and 2 Overview document provides short summaries of the two activities along with key concepts and learning objectives, background information, references and rubrics, and answers to students’ questions. Both cancer discovery activities are appropriate for first-year high school biology (honors or regular), AP and IB Biology. Activity 2 is also appropriate for an undergraduate freshman biology class.


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