Course Syllabus



Biotechnology and Personal Genetics Syllabus

School Year 2023-23

(subject to change- especially due to class interests)



  • Introduction to the topics of personal genetics and biotechnology
  • A prion love story
  • Refresher on genes, proteins and genetics
  • Introduction to Biotechnology
  • Project: What are the current Biotechnology techniques?
  • Lab: DNA Extraction, COVID19 qPCR Lab, Rainbow electrophoresis


Unit 1: Introduction to Personal Genetics

  • Genetics and Reproduction: fetal DNA testing
  • Genetics, jobs and your rights
  • Projects: What genetic disease are you interested in, or plagues your family? What jobs are available in the field of genetics/biotech?
  • Lab: Bitter Taste Lab- PCR, Nature’s Dice- using gel electrophoresis to determine inheritance of a family disease
  • Videos: NOVA, Cracking Your Code, The Gene Doctors, and GATTACA
  • Guest speaker: Genetic counselor


Unit 2: Human Intervention

  • CRISPR, human germline editing
  • History and eugenics
  • Microbiology/Recombinant DNA technology
  • GMOs
  • Project: Primary source analysis
  • Lab: CRISPR Knockout, GMO investigation, pGlo transformation
  • Videos: Human Nature (NOVA), UnNatural Selection (Netflix)
  • Guest speaker: TBD


Unit 4: DNA, Crime and Law Enforcement

  • Forensics
  • Molecular evidence of crimes
  • Project: Types of evidence and reliability (PCAST report), unsolved crimes
  • Labs: Forensic DNA fingerprinting lab, using gel electrophoresis
  • Videos: Can Science Stop Crime (NOVA)
  • Guest speaker: Detectives from Wellesley PD


Unit 5: Human Behavior

    • Sleep and human behavior
    • Athletics and genetics
    • Aggression in humans
    • Your health and the microbiome
  • Lab: Are you a night owl or morning lark? PCR Lab


Unit 6: Personalized Medicine/ Introduction to clinical trials and drug discovery

  • Personalized approach to medicine and treating disease
  • Research ethics
  • Clinical trials
  • Advertisement of clinical trials and pharmaceuticals 
  • Current advancements in therapeutics
  • Video: Ms. Evers’ Boys (HBO Film)


Unit 6: Genetics of Cancer

  • What is cancer? Who gets it and why?
  • Henrietta Lacks
  • Project: Research cancer, HeLa timeline
  • Video: clips from PBS Emperor of All Maladies, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO Docuseries)
  • Lab: Detecting Inherited Forms of Cancer (gel electrophoresis)
  • Guest speaker: TBD


Course Summary:

Date Details Due