Jackson Laboratory educator contributes to new NIH “Evolution and Medicine” curriculum

Date: June 25, 2012
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Bar Harbor, Maine—Jackson Laboratory Educational Programs Director Randy Smith, Ph.D., is among the scientists, educators and other experts who designed a new high school curriculum, “Evolution and Medicine,” produced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The new curriculum was designed to give students an opportunity to understand the fundamentals of genetic changes over time, using specific examples of conditions—including influenza and lactose intolerance—to investigate the role of evolution in medicine.

Smith said, “We hope that these modules will help students understand the changes that occur through genetics over deep time and how we can use this knowledge to help find treatments for human disease.”

The “Evolution and Medicine” curriculum, teacher guide and student activities are all freely available online, and teachers may request individual print copies of the teacher guide at no charge.

Smith was in the program design group with five other educators from across the nation, part of a larger team of NIH officials, scientists, teachers, graphic designers, programmers and other experts.

“The team that was assembled in Colorado Springs was very impressive,” Smith said. “We worked hard developing a unique tool to help students understand the importance of evolutional changes in how we solve complex medical problems. One of the early decisions was to include compelling stories to capture the interest of the students and to look at a wide variety of new scenarios.”

The Jackson Laboratory is based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., an institute for genomic medicine in the architectural planning stage in Farmington, Conn., and a total staff of about 1,400. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human disease, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.

Jackson Laboratory educational initiatives include programs for high school and college students, graduate students, science teachers, postdoctoral researchers and mid-career scientists.


Joyce Peterson, 207-288-6058, The Jackson Laboratory

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