SOURCE Lesson Plans Detail

The Genetic Basis of Disease

Topic Human Genetics
Program Brown Science Prep
Developed by Michael Danziger, Harry Wanar
Developer Type Brown students

Overview / Purpose / Essential Questions

Students will learn about several diseases with full or partial genetic components, as well as ways in which clinical geneticists make diagnoses and the ethical considerations that must be weighed when dealing with human genetic diseases.

Performance / Lesson Objective(s)

-Solidify understanding of the central dogma (DNA-->RNA-->protein)
-Learn about how diseases can manifest at the genetic level
-Learn about various emerging technologies that greatly facilitate genetic diagnoses
-Critically engage the various considerations in play when pursuing and delivering genetic disease diagnoses

Lesson Materials


Lesson Motivation

Emerging technologies are making rapid large-scale sequencing a reality in the medical field, and so the diagnosis of genetic diseases will become much more widespread.  Students should have an understanding of the pros and cons of genetic disease diagnosis, since sequencing for genetic defects may soon become commonplace.

Lesson Activities

-Seminar discussion of several different genetic diseases (e.g. Huntington's Disease, X-linked intellectual disability, familial cardiomyopathy, schizophrenia, autism)

-Whole group discussion of personal opinions regarding appropriate courses of action, given a particular clinical situation


-seminar lesson

-whole group discussion

Wrap up / Conclusion

Whole group discussion about personal opinions/experience will be the concluding activity

Follow up


Supporting Web Information

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man

Ethics of Genetic Testing


(see web information)

Pre Assessment Plan

quiz on various characteristics of different genetic diseases

Post Assessment Plan

quiz on same topics as pre assessment

Alignment Info

Audience(s) High school students
STEM Area(s) Biology
Life Sciences (RI GSE) LS1.EXT.1aa
Students demonstrate understanding of structure and function-survival requirements by describing how the malfunction of cell organelles can lead to disease (e.g. “leaky” lysosomes and rheumatoid arthritis)
Life Sciences (RI GSE) LS1.EXT.2aa
Students demonstrate an understanding of the molecular basis for heredity by … diagramming or modeling the relationship between chromosomes, genes and DNA, including histones and nucleosomes.
Life Sciences (RI GSE) LS1.EXT.2cc
Students demonstrate an understanding of the molecular basis for heredity by … tracing in a diagram or model the information flow - DNA to RNA to Protein -through transcription and translation.
Activity Type(s) Lecture
Grade Level(s) High School
Version 1
Created 05/28/2013 09:20 PM
Updated 12/20/2018 11:58 AM