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Development and Implementation of College and University Curricula Concerning Stem Cell Science and Related Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications - 2009

RFA #: 0809080957

Institution PI Amount Title
The New School Katayoun Chamany $212,914 The Development, Implementation, and Assessment of an Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Curriculum for Non-Majors
Columbia University Daniel Kalderon $291,061 Implementation of a New Undergraduate Course, "Stem Cells: Biology, Applications and Ethics" at Columbia University
University of Rochester Dina Markowitz $272,448 The Science and Ethics of Stem Cells: A Case Study-Based Course for Undergraduates
Syracuse University John Russell $324,000 Development of an Interdisciplinary Portable Course on Stem Cells
SUNY Binghamton University Robert Van Buskirk $287,823 The Business and Biology of Stem Cells in Cell Therapy


The Development, Implementation, and Assessment of an Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Curriculum for Non-Majors

Katayoun Chamany, Ph.D.
The New School

We intend to develop, implement, and assess a set of curricular modules centered on stem cell science and its related ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) with special attention to social justice. These modules can be used in combination or separately, in a range of undergraduate courses, as the content of the modules will span biological topics such as cloning, chimeras and nuclear reprogramming, in addition to social themes such as competing values and equity, and access to stem cell science and technology. Case studies that require a firm understanding of the science and ELSI will serve as capstone activities for each module. The interdisciplinary Stem Cells Across The Curriculum (SCAC) Faculty Working Group will be charged with developing the textual and visual content for the modules and inquiry-oriented learning activities. All modules will be piloted in an interdisciplinary undergraduate non-majors course titled Stem Cells: The Scientific, Ethical Legal and Social Implications. Select modules will also be piloted in the Higher Education Opportunity Summer Program and in courses offered by several other departments. The Stem Cells course will become part of the standard offerings of the general education curriculum, but may also be scaled up for the University Common Lecture open to all undergraduates at The New School. Curriculum development will be reiterative, with revision based on feedback from the SCAC Faculty Working Group, from qualitative and quantitative data gathered from faculty and students, and through the counsel of participants of faculty development workshops. The curriculum will be appropriately evaluated, modified, and disseminated through conferences, publications in interdisciplinary journals, science education journals and faculty development workshops at professional meetings, as well as during two three-day summer workshops hosted by The New School at no cost to faculty who teach in primarily minority-serving institutions.

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Implementation of a New Undergraduate Course, "Stem Cells: Biology, Applications and Ethics" at Columbia University

Daniel Kalderon, Ph.D.
Columbia University

A new undergraduate course will be offered to Columbia University students suitably qualified by a year of college introductory biology and one advanced biology class. The fundamental science of pluripotent and multipotent stem cells will be the central theme of the course, which will also explicitly address and integrate ideas about the ethical, economic, regulatory and societal implications of stem cell research, as well as its potential medical applications. The stem cell theme provides an exciting and critical focus for the course instructors to integrate their diverse expertise in pure science, its medical applications and bioethics. Stem Cell science is progressing rapidly, opening up entirely new landscapes for further understanding and treatment of a large variety of medical conditions. These new possibilities, and the attendant experimental or medical procedures, have unprecedented societal impact and must therefore be evaluated carefully from ethical, legal and economic, as well as scientific perspectives. The course aims to educate students in the basic science of stem cells and to use that knowledge to inform discussions about societal implications. Toward scientific understanding, the course will emphasize the logic of scientific deductions, limitations in our understanding and the realities of research progress, by including primary research papers, laboratory visits and public research seminars as critical supplements to a progressive core of lectures. To develop skills in integrating ethical and other societal concerns with biomedical science, the course will include case studies and extensive small group discussions. The course will be distinguished by a strong science component, qualifying it as a course for science majors but leaving it accessible to non-science majors as well. A full, integrated exploration of the interface of science with our lives will render the course uniquely valuable in guiding students' future participation and leadership in public discourse pertaining to science and society.

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The Science and Ethics of Stem Cells: A Case Study-Based Course for Undergraduates

Dina Markowitz, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

The rapid advances in stem cell research require that the general public have an understanding of the science and its related ethical, legal and social implications. This need is especially important for college-age students, as these young adults are our future workforce, decision-makers, health care providers, and patients. The goal of this proposal is to create an undergraduate stem cell course for non-biology majors that will provide students with an overview of stem cell science and an opportunity to explore related ethical legal and social implications (ELSI). We will convene a multidisciplinary curriculum development and instructional team of faculty, including biology curriculum experts, a philosopher with expertise in ELSI and medical/research ethics and a stem cell researcher. Together, this group will create an undergraduate course using real-life case study curriculum modules and instructional strategies, then teach the course at the University of Rochester and at Monroe Community College. Finally, we will collect and analyze evaluation data to make appropriate revisions to the course. From review of the case studies, students will learn how to gather and critically evaluate current information on stem cell science and ELSI, and they will develop decision-making skills that will be useful for their future roles as active and informed citizens. Each case study module will include learning objectives that cover scientific concepts as well as ELSI issues of stem cell science. This project will also provide other undergraduate faculty, who will be able to adopt these curriculum modules and adapt them for use in their own courses, with models for presenting information on the science and ELSI of stem cells.

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Development of an Interdisciplinary Portable Course on Stem Cells

John Russell, Ph.D.
Syracuse University

The promise of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine is a matter of great public interest, but public understanding of relevant issues lags behind. As with any emerging technology, there are uncertainties and legitimate differences of opinion about the associated technologies and proposed uses. The fact that, at least until recently, the source of human stem cells with the greatest medical potential was human embryos, has raised important ethical and legal issues, issues that are often technical and always complicated. How are responsible citizens to judge the merits of claims and counterclaims coming from groups whose vested interests are sometimes clear and other times subtle? An interdisciplinary Steering Committee was created with faculty from Syracuse University and the State University of New York-Upstate Medical University to develop a one-semester, three-credit undergraduate course at Syracuse University that will broadly inform students about the science, ethical, religious, social and legal issues involved and help students develop the analytical skills necessary to address such complex issues. The course will also cover the role of the news media and the ways in which interested groups use the media to build their particular cases with the public. The proposed course will be led by an interdisciplinary group of faculty using lectures, assigned readings and small group discussions to cover this material in a highly integrated manner with respectful treatment of a broad range of ethical and religious viewpoints. We will develop complex problems and cases to present to our students, who will organize into small teams to develop their responses to the cases. Importantly, we will also develop ways to make these cases and all other course materials available to instructors at other institutions who do not have access to the breadth of expertise found in Syracuse.

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The Business and Biology of Stem Cells in Cell Therapy

Robert Van Buskirk, Ph.D.
SUNY Binghamton University

This proposal will fund two new stem cell courses at Binghamton University. The Fall 2010 course, "The Biotechnology of Stem Cells," will be taught by Professor Robert Van Buskirk, a cell biologist/tissue engineer who developed EpiDerm, a commercially successful stem cell-derived, human skin used worldwide for scar management. This course, limited to junior and senior biology majors, will include oral presentations of stem cell companies’ history, underlying science, products and market potential, and a requirement to write an NIH SBIR (small business) grant focused on stem cells. The companion Fall 2011 course, "The Commercialization of Stem Cells", will be taught by Professor John Baust, a cell biologist/cryobiologist who developed commercially successful stem cell transport solutions now used internationally for shipping human stem cells for cell therapy. This course, offered to both undergraduate business and science (non-biology) majors, will include a tutorial on cell biology and stem cells, oral presentations on stem cell companies and a requirement to write a business plan focused on developing new stem cell companies. Dr. Alfred Cioffi, a well-known bioethicist, will present a guest lecture and lead a discussion on embryonic stem cell bioethics. A retreat at a biotechnology company will be held at the end of the semesters where students will develop a slate of stem cell bioethical principles based on the course experiences. Each Fall course will alternate every other year and an optional Spring semester laboratory research internship will be available at a local biotechnology company. The overall intent of this project is to cross-fertilize both biology majors and non-biology science/business majors so that the former feel academically confident to pursue an entrepreneurial career in the stem cell sciences whereas the latter group may be similarly encouraged to enter stem cell patent law and other business disciplines that demand a solid grounding in stem cell biology.

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