Pandemics And Genetics

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In this class I have really enjoyed learning about the issues in Biology. In rating the issues we have discussed in class from most important to least important I would list pandemics and genetics/cancer as my top two choices, followed by natural selection/evolution, sustainability, human population, biotechnology/GMO’s and, lastly, climate change.

I chose to put pandemics at the top of my list because it is important for people to learn how a pandemic starts, spreads and the lasting effects it can have on people who get sick. Global pandemics are known to cause panic in everyone- not just in the United States but also all over the world (Baker, 2015). If we do not learn about pandemics and one does emerge, then we as a country will not know what to do to handle to situation properly. When preparing for another pandemic like the current one, there are so many things that we can do differently as a country. For example, the government should have a coordination system in place for medical supplies to be evenly distributed to medical personnel efficiently (AACC, 2020). During the next pandemic, we should not wait for people to begin testing positive. Instead, we should start testing immediately and often, not only to see who has symptoms but also to see how the virus spreads. If we were to do this, maybe we could control the situation sooner rather than when it has snowballed and gotten out of control (Rosenberg, 2020). The lasting impact that the current pandemic has had is on hospitals because the health care workers do not have access to the proper personal protective equipment because there is a shortage of what is protecting them from others. When healthcare workers do not have the proper gowns and masks to wear, they face the real possibility of being more exposed to the virus and run the risk of becoming sick themselves (Cohen and Muelen Rodgers, 2020). Further, hospitals have been running out of hospital beds, and now have to turn patients away (not just Covid patients) or send them to different hospitals for treatment (Abelson, 2020).

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Additionally, it is important to teach more about genetics and cancer. It is important to know if you may have the genetics that can cause cancer later in life. For example the BRCA1 mutation that is known for causing breast cancer in women (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). In addition to women, men should also investigate their genetics because they should know if they carry genes that are known to cause prostate cancer (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). It is important when learning about our genetics to understand how some of those genes can lead to cancer. A person’s body is made up of 46 chromosomes and are arranged in two sets of 23. Genes are responsible for how long a cell lives and how often a cell divides and genes are in housed in our DNA. A person’s genes are the ones that make proteins and these can help a tumor stop growing if, in fact, a tumor does to start to grow (Cancer.net, 2018). Beyond cancer, it is also important for people to learn about genetics to understand what diseases run in their families so they can be aware of what can develop later in life. Finally, educating the public on genetics leads to further research. For example, one research project is called “the Human Genome” which is a project used to understand disorders that people may inherit and various treatment options. Further, this allows scientists to trace human migration patterns from the past (BBC Bitesize Guides). Educating the public on genetics would allow people to recognize these mutations early in life and could potentially save their lives. Additionally, it could advance research on cancer, disorders, and other hereditary diseases.

I decided to list climate change as the lowest priority in educating the public because there is a lot of controversy around this topic- it either is or is not taught in schools. The National Public Radio (NPR) conducted a survey among parents and teachers: over eighty percent of parents said that they wanted teachers to teach their kids about climate change; over two-thirds of other teachers do not teach their students about climate change because it is out of their “subject area”; and another third of teachers did not want to teach their students about climate change to avoid conflict with parents who do not want them teaching their child about climate change (Study International Staff, 2019). Additionally, climate change has become a lower priority in schools because when it is taught, students received mixed messages on the topic. Another reason why climate change is not often taught in schools is due to the fact that so many teachers did not study climate change in school so they do not know what to teach their students. Further, not a top priority for students to learn in science class because it is often not a part of the curriculum (Some States still Late in teaching Climate Science). Often, climate and earth sciences are abandoned topics in science classes among public schools (Preston, 2019). One of the last things that I would do to teach about climate change is show the movie I am Greta which is about an English school girl who cares deeply about the climate and that she wants to see climate change stopped before its too late to do anything( I am Greta)

I would use various methods to teach these important science topics. When teaching pandemics in school, I would use PowerPoints on why it is important to learn about pandemics. Also , I would incorporate news videos on how the current pandemic started, the impact that it had on healthcare workers, the lasting impact that it had on the world, and how it impacted everyone’s daily lives. Further, I would bring in people who were on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic to tell their stories of what it was like to treat patients who were sick with Covid-19. When teaching genetics and genetic diseases, I would use videos on how genetics work and what our genetics mean. To expand on this, I would use videos and PowerPoints on how cancer starts to develop so students could apply their basic knowledge of how genetics work. Finally, if I taught climate change, I would show videos and PowerPoints to teach students the importance of climate change and what that means scientifically, then I would have speakers come and discuss the topic as well.

References

  1. AACC: Better health through laboratory medicine. (2020, June 25). To Prepare the U.S. for Future Pandemics, AACC Calls on Congress to Enact 4 Recommendations. AACC: Better health through laboratory medicine. https://www.aacc.org/media/press-release-archive/2020/06-jun/to-prepare-for-future-pandemics-aacc-calls-on-congress-to-enact-4-recommendations
  2. Abelson, R. (2020, November 27). Covid Overload: U.S. Hospitals Are Running Out of Beds for Patients. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/27/health/covid-hospitals-overload.html
  3. Baker, M. (2015, May 7). Five lessons we should have learned from pandemics. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/may/07/five-lessons-we-should-have-learned-from-pandemics
  4. BBC Bitesize guides. (n.d.). Changing the genes. BBC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z9rqcj6/revision/1
  5. Cancer.net Editorial Board. (2018, March). The Genetics of Cancer. Cancer.Net. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/cancer-basics/genetics/genetics-cancer
  6. Cohen, J., Muelen Rodgers, Y. (2020, October 2). Contributing factors to personal protective equipment shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7531934/
  7. Preston, C. (2019, July 6). Teaching global warming in a charged political climate. The Hechinger Report. https://hechingerreport.org/teaching-global-warming-in-a-charged-political-climate/
  8. Rosenberg, A. (2020, March 16). Six Lessons from Previous Pandemics that We Can Still Learn. Union of Concerned Scientists: Science for a healthy planet and safer world. https://blog.ucsusa.org/andrew-rosenberg/six-lessons-from-previous-pandemics-that-we-can-still-learn Study International Staff. (2019, April 25). Should climate change be taught in schools? Parents and teachers think so. Study International.
  9. https://www.studyinternational.com/news/should-climate-change-be-taught-in-schools-parents-and-teachers-think-so/ “I Am Greta.” IMDb. IMDb.com, October 16, 2020. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10394738/.

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