Personal Genetics Education Project

Sickle cell disease and genetic engineering: Mini-Lesson from pgEd

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a common genetic condition affecting people around the globe, primarily those with West or Central African ancestry (including many African-Americans and Latinos), as well as people of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Mediterranean descent. Many students of biology learn about SCD, and many students know of it from personal and family experience.

This mini-lesson asks students to consider the plans for genetic engineering as a treatment for SCD, and to think about the dimensions of race, trust and informed consent as they relate to clinical trials. Students read a brief overview of SCD, and then read a longer article about the latest vision for a treatment, described in MIT Technology Review’s article, “Sickle-Cell Patients See Hope in CRISPR,” by Emily Mullin, August 23, 2017. A short video in the article explains how CRISPR works, and should be shown in class.

Students can respond to the questions in writing or in a classroom discussion. Finally, students are invited to take a short online quiz developed by pgEd and “pin” their awareness of SCD on our world map.

What to learn more? Check out pgEd’s lesson “Protecting athletes with genetic conditions: Sickle cell trait.” Also, for more about genetic engineering, see “Genome editing and CRISPR.”

Download here: Mini-lesson- Sickle cell disease and genetic engineering

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