Debates in GeneticsGENOME 475
Department of Genome Sciences
University of Washington
Please click on the links above for email addresses and office locations.
Meeting times and location
MW 12:00 - 1:20 pm, Foege S110
The overall goal is that each student will learn
- to locate relevant scientific information,
- to evaluate critically the validity of the data, and
- to assemble the information into a cogent argument to support a position on a current issue in genetics.
Students who complete the course will have the skills to evaluate other controversial topics with a similarly factual, critical approach.
Format and grading
The course will be divided into units, and each unit will take three class periods, as follows:
- An introductory lecture/discussion. Assigned reading will be handed out before each unit. These papers must be read before each introductory class.
- The formal debate. Each debate will include two teams of two people each. Students will be assigned by lottery to partners and to an affirmative or negative position for the debates.
- An open discussion of the various issues raised during the debate.
Class attendance is required, and active participation constitutes an important part of your grade. In addition, each student will be graded on
- debate preparation and performance in two debates (see below for how that works),
- the thoroughness of the student's evaluation of debates presented by other teams, and
- an annotated bibliography of relevant information used in preparation of one of the debate topics.
Details on how the debates will be structured are available here.
Juniors and seniors who have taken any one of the following courses may enroll:
- GENOME 361: Fundamentals of Genetics and Genomics
- GENOME 371: Introductory Genetics
- BIOL 355: Foundations in Molecular Cell Biology
- BIOL 400: Experiments in Molecular Biology
- BIOL 401: Advanced Cell Biology
An online discussion board is available via Catalyst here.
Date Unit Instructor Topic Reading Mon Mar 28 Antibiotics as growth promoters Noble MacCoss Intro to the debate format and expectations for the class
Demo debate: "Use of antibiotics as growth promoters in agriculture should be prohibited in the US."
Affirmative: Mike MacCoss. Negative: Bill Noble (Ballot)
Wed Mar 30 GMOs Noble Introduction: What genetic modifications are commonly introduced into plants and animals? How is this done? What do the novel genes do? Moellenbeck Huang Paine Stokstad Mon Apr 4 GMOs Noble Debate 1: "Growing and selling genetically modified organisms for human consumption should be prohibited in the US"
Foege S110 Affirmative: Shima Khalil Manesh, Lisie Thayer; Negative: Kenton Nakamura, Sophia Carbone; Audience: Debaters for Debate #2 (Ballot)
Foege N303 Affirmative: Jen Wright, Nahum Smith; Negative: Julia Olsen, Phuong Nguyen; Audience: Debaters for Debate #3 (Ballot)
Wed Apr 6 GMOs Noble Discussion: What are the main issues that are raised in favor or against genetically modified organisms? What social and political influences are evident? How do these differ in various countries and regions? Why do you think there are such large differences? Carpenter Fiester Lu Maxmen Pollack Mon Apr 11 Genetic transfer MacCoss Introduction: What is the purpose of nuclear genome transfer? How does it work? Is the procedure effective, and what risks are involved? Craven Tachibana Paull Wed Apr 13 Genetic transfer MacCoss Debate 2: "Nuclear genome transfer in human oocytes to eliminate mitochondrial DNA variants should be banned in the US."
Foege S110 Affirmative: Shuchi Gaur, Kendra Ferrier; Negative: Crystal Shin, Leo Dudley; Audience: Debaters for Debate #1 (Ballot)
Foege N303 Affirmative: Peter Loeffler, Anna Schorr; Negative: Julia Proctor, Troy Layouni; Audience: Debaters for Debate #3 (Ballot)
Mon Apr 18 Genetic transfer MacCoss Discussion: How much testing of a new technology must be done before it is applied to humans? What are the potential detrimental effects of this procedure? Is nuclear transfer fundamentally different from other IVF procedures? Wed Apr 20 Personal genetics Stessman Introduction: How is genomic information determined? What information is accessible to the individual from current platforms? 23andMe HumanOmniExpress HapMap Rosenberg Discussion Optional: 1000 Genomes Standards Mon Apr 25 Personal genetics Stessman Debate 3: "Genome wide personal genomic information should be released to patients only with collaboration of professional medical experts"
Foege S110 Affirmative: Samantha Ferrell, Ashley Krzeszowski; Negative: Lisie Thayer, Jaclyn Adams; Audience: Debaters for Debate #1 (Ballot)
Foege N303 Affirmative: Leo Dudley, Victoria Kasprzak; Negative: Jihad El-Saadoun, Dylan Moore; Audience: Debaters for Debate #2 (Ballot)
Wed Apr 27 Personal genetics Stessman Discussion: Who should have access to your genomic information? How much professional explanation is needed when people access their own genomic profile? Mon May 2 Forensics Turner Introduction: The role of genetics in forensics Aronson Bulman Butler Jeffreys Katsanis Wed May 4 Forensics Turner Debate 4: "The use of personal genetic information to infer phenotype of a perpetrator of a crime should be prohibited"
Foege S110 Affirmative: Shima Khalil Manesh, Sophia Carbone; Negative: Kenton Nakamura, Jihad El-Saadoun; Audience: Debaters for Debate #5 (Ballot)
Foege N303 Affirmative: Jen Wright, Phuong Nguyen; Negative: Julia Olsen, Nahum Smith; Audience: Debaters for Debate #6 (Ballot)
Mon May 9 Forensics Turner Discussion: Use of genomic information in forensics Cho Claes Gymrek Wallace Wed May 11 Precision medicine Noble Introduction: What is "precision medicine"? How is precision medicine used to treat patients? What do we know about the genetics of race? Bristow Temple Taylor Mon May 16 Precision medicine Noble Debate 5: "Self-reported race should be used by physicians for precision medicine treatment of patients"
Foege S110 Affirmative: Shuchi Gaur, Victoria Kasprzak; Negative: Crystal Shin, Kendra Ferrier; Audience: Debaters for Debate #4 (Ballot)
Foege N303 Affirmative: Peter Loeffler, Troy Layouni; Negative: Julia Proctor, Anna Schorr; Audience: Debaters for Debate #6 (Ballot)
Wed May 18 Data sharing MacCoss Introduction Bermuda Principles Shendure Steen Mon May 23 Precision medicine Noble Discussion: How accurate is self-reported race from a genetics perspective? How important will it be in precision medicine to consider other epidemiological phenomena that also stratify with race (e.g., obesity, low-income, quality-of-care)? What will the fully realized precision medicine treatment team look like (i.e., is a primary care physician enough)? What might the social and political ramifications of precision medicine be? Wed May 25 Data sharing MacCoss Debate 6: "All raw data collected using federal funding must be made immediately available to the scientific community as outlined by the Bermuda Principles."
Foege S110 Affirmative: Samantha Ferrell, Jaclyn Adams; Negative: Dylan Moore, Ashley Krzeszowski; Audience: everyone else (Ballot)
Mon May 25 Memorial Day Holiday Wed Jun 1 Data sharing MacCoss Discussion Rowen Bell Hyman Kaye Hayden Fri Jun 10 Annotated bibliography due (Submit here)
We have chosen the debate format for this course for several reasons.
- First, in a debate, you are not expressing your opinion; rather, you are assigned an affirmative or negative position on the question. Your task is to find the pertinent data and assemble it into a set of logical arguments that will support or refute the statement, depending on the side to which you have been assigned. The formality of the debate will focus our attention on the scientific information that underlies each of the issues we will address, not on our opinions.
- Second, each debate will have two teams, with two individuals on each team. This format will encourage each person to work as a part of the team, and the discussion that will be required to form your strategy should also sharpen your skills and logic. Each team will debate two topics, once as the affirmative team and once as the negative.
- Third, each debate will be judged by the others in the group, so both the debate teams and the audience will need to be actively engaged in the process. You have to be an active participant, even when you are not debating yourself.
Resources and planning
- This course will rely on your knowledge of the methods used in many genetic manipulations. There is no official textbook for this course, However, a good genetics textbook will contain information useful for interpreting figures in papers you will read. Let us know if you do not have access to a genetics text and we will either loan you one or make sure that you do have what you need.
- For the debates, you will use information from the primary scientific literature. We expect you to be able to find relevant papers using online databases such as PubMed and Google Scholar. If you need assistance, we can help you get started with these searches.
- If you'd like, you may contact one of us by email to schedule an initial meeting with you and your partner to get you started. Preparing for a debate takes time, both to search for information and to plan your strategy. You should begin to prepare with your partner at least a week before your debate.
Although the debates are collaborative efforts, the annotated bibliography should be your work alone. The bibliography will document the range of scientific articles you used in preparing one of your debates. In addition to simply listing each article, you should make clear how you used the information as evidence to formulate arguments for or against the resolved statement.
- You should begin your bibliography with an organized list of your arguments (and state which position you argued).
- Each article on your list should have the following information associated with it:
- The complete reference so that someone could easily locate the article.
- A short paragraph outlining the main content, emphasizing points that you used as evidence in your argument or that can be used as a rebuttal to those arguments.
- Points that might not be obvious to a less sophisticated reader. For example, a control missing from an experiment that reduces its actual usefulness as evidence.
This bibliography is one component of your grade in the course. Maybe more important, the bibliography is meant to serve as a possible resource for a teacher who may want to organize a debate on a similar topic. Your bibliography can be based on either of the two debates in which you participated; the choice is yours. The bibliography need not be very long; two pages is probably about right.