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HITS: A network to promote high-throughput (HT) approaches through inquiry-based case studies

Author(s): Carlos Christopher Goller1, Stefanie Chen1, Sabrina Robertson2

1. North Carolina State University 2. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

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Poster on the HITS project presented at the 2018 Annual Fall Conference for the National Center for Case Study Teaching In Science.


Modern molecular biology techniques are increasingly utilizing automation and
miniaturization to test numerous samples or conditions simultaneously. High-throughput
(HT) approaches include massively parallel sequencing of DNA, synthesis of numerous
nucleic acids and peptides, automated microscopy, microfluidics for single-cell analyses,
small molecule screening using robotics, and genome-scale phenotypic characterization
using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technologies. These approaches produce a wealth of
results, often labeled ‘big data.’ However, there are limited educational case studies that
address authentic high-throughput approaches using real data. We believe well-designed
case studies focusing on HT approaches and using original datasets empower students to
learn current approaches and exercise quantitative reasoning in data analyses.

We have created the NSF-funded High-throughput Discovery Science & Inquiry-based
Case Studies for Today’s Students (HITS) Research Coordination Network to address this
gap. HITS brings together interdisciplinary groups of HT researchers and instructors to
produce authentic HT case studies that can be implemented in a variety of courses,
allowing students to analyze real data and learn valuable quantitative skills. The first cohort
is developing new HT cases. As a pilot, we have designed and used four case studies in
our upper-level undergraduate and graduate HT Discovery course, and the graduate
students in the course each created case studies that highlight the applications of HT
approaches and follow the NCCSTS guidelines. Together, these initiatives will increase the
content available for teaching HT approaches.

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