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ERIC Number: EJ920343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
A Metabolic Murder Mystery: A Case-Based Experiment for the Undergraduate Biochemistry Laboratory
Childs-Disney, Jessica L.; Kauffmann, Andrew D.; Poplawski, Shane G.; Lysiak, Daniel R.; Stewart, Robert J.; Arcadi, Jane K.; Dinan, Frank J.
Journal of Chemical Education, v87 n10 p1110-1112 Oct 2010
In 1990, a woman was wrongly convicted of poisoning her infant son and was sentenced to life in prison. Her conviction was based on laboratory work that wrongly identified ethylene glycol as present in her son's blood and in the formula he drank prior to his death. The actual cause of the infant's death, a metabolic disease, was eventually disclosed as a result of analytical work done by scientists who believed the mother was wrongly convicted. On the basis of the scientists' work, the conviction was overturned. This real-life case serves as the launching point for a biochemistry laboratory experiment, which uses polymerase chain reaction. Students design their own primers, amplify two biological samples, and analyze the results by gel electrophoresis to determine if their patient has a genetic mutation. This genetic mutation causes the metabolic disease, which if present can be used to "solve" the case. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A