Assignment 11 – Biotechnology videosIn this activity, you will watch a video, or two, of your choice on a topic relating to biotechnology, and answer a set of questions pertaining to the video. You can choose from a list of recommended online videos on the PBS Video and Films On Demand websites, or you also have the option of finding your own video, or two, from a source such as YouTube.
It is important that you choose something that interests you. For example, you may know someone with a particular genetic disease or disorder, may worry about the overuse of antibiotics, or maybe you are debating whether or not to vaccinate your children. Perhaps you have a fear of human cloning or dread the prospect of babies being genetically designed to have certain traits. There are lots of topics available that relate to biotechnology.
Be sure to read through the entire recommended list of videos before making your choice, and find something that truly interests you. If you don’t see what you are looking for in the list, feel free to find your own video!
Note that if you watch a video that is less than 25 minutes long, you are required to watch a second video, and submit answers to the questions for that video, too. The second video can be short. Feel free to find something in the 5 to 15 minute range.
Video questions
Please answer the following questions in a computer document. When you are done watching the video, and have answered all of the questions, submit your document in the Assignment 11 dropbox.
1. What is the title of the video? Is this video from the list of suggested videos, or did you find this video on your own? If you found it on your own, provide the URL so that your instructor can also access it.
2. Why did you choose this particular video? What aspect of its description peaked your interest? Does it relate to you somehow?
3. In at least 10 sentences and in your own words, describe the main points of the video. In other words, what was this video about?
4. What did you learn from the video that you did not know already? Describe.
5. Did any of the comments made in the video cause you concern? Explain.
6. What was your favorite part of the video? Why did you like it?
7. Did you find this video interesting and relevant to this class? Would you recommend it to another student?
Video choices
The following videos are from PBS Video and the Films On Demand library. If you are prompted to enter a username and password, they are the same as you use to log into MyPima. If you have trouble hearing the video, closed captions can be enabled. Many videos also include transcripts.
Longer videos
The following videos vary in length from about 45 to 60 minutes. If you choose one of these, you only need to watch one video for the assignment.
Vaccines–Calling the Shots. This video aired on PBS on September 10, 2014. Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago–whooping cough, measles, mumps–are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. NOVA’s “Vaccines—Calling the Shots” takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, hear from parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and shed light on the risks of opting out. (54 minutes).
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Vaccines–Calling the Shots (54:00)
The Trouble with Antibiotics. This video aired on PBS on October 14, 2014. FRONTLINE investigates the widespread use of antibiotics in food animals and whether it is fueling the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance in people. Plus an exclusive interview with the family of a young man who died in a superbug outbreak that swept through a hospital at the National Institutes of Health. (54 minutes).
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• The Trouble with Antibiotics (54:00)
Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria. This video aired on PBS on October 22, 2013. It begins with a story involving a Tucson, Arizona, resident — a young girl named Addie, who in May of 2011, at age 11, contracted an antibiotic resistant “superbug.” You will also hear the stories of two other people who contracted drug-resistant bacteria, and will learn why the major drug companies are hesitant to invest in antibiotic research. (54 minutes).
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria (54:00)
I also recommend that you view the following article that was published after the airing of this video. It appears that there have been some positive developments in regards to simulating the development of new antibiotics.
• GAIN: How a new law is stimulating the development of antibiotics.
Epigenetics: The Hidden Life of Our Genes. How is it that the genetically identical clone of a tortoiseshell cat turned out to be a gray-striped tabby? The answer lies in epigenetics. This program presents evidence that DNA is not necessarily destiny, and that diet, stress, and environmental exposures can all modify gene expression. With commentary from experts, detailed animations of cell mechanics, and examples from everyday life, Epigenetics succeeds in delivering an informative and entertaining explanation of how cell memory, methylation, and RNA interference cause these changes to occur. The video also examines the role of epigenetics in stem cell function, and the promising developments the field holds for treating cancer and neurological disease. Not available in French-speaking Canada. (52 minutes). Copyright 2009.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Epigenetics: The Hidden Life of Our Genes (52:00)
Attack of the Mutants: Will Genetic Doping Replace Steroids? In the not-so-distant future, athletes and other physically active people won’t use needles, pills, or stick-ons for extra strength and endurance — those traits will be cultivated genetically. But one person’s athletic utopia is another’s sci-fi nightmare, and the World Anti-Doping Agency is already raising the alarm. This program examines the controversy in the wider context of biomedical advances as well as in the arena of sports. Featured case studies include gene therapy experiments with mice conducted by famed researcher Dr. Nadia Rosenthal and several other genetically relevant medical examples. Renowned geneticist Dr. Theodore Freidmann is also interviewed. Contains brief posterior nudity related to steroid use testing. (52 minutes). Copyright 2010.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Attack of the Mutants: Will Genetic Doping Replace Steroids? (52:00)
Playing God: The World of Synthetic Biology. This program delves into the world of synthetic biology, showcasing innovations and speculating on what the future could hold in this groundbreaking field. Geneticist Adam Rutherford introduces the spider-goat, a hybrid animal whose milk can be used to create super-strong artificial silk for medical and other applications; he then takes viewers to an outdoor café for a demonstration of prefab DNA sequences called BioBricks, and to a California lab where engineers are making diesel fuel out of reengineered yeast. Also featured: Synthia, the first artificially created cell; and the International Genetically Engineered Machine contest. A BBC Production. (59 minutes). Copyright 2012.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Playing God: The World of Synthetic Biology (50:00)
Epigenetics: How Food Upsets Our Genes. Why are girls entering puberty at progressively younger ages? Why are the rates of heart attack, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes rising? This program examines growing indications that food affects our genes — a concept vitally important to the science of epigenetics. Viewers encounter a wide range of experiments, case studies, and historical evidence, including Dutch birth records and testimonials from WWII that point to the epigenetic effects of starvation. Findings from animal and human nutritional studies, as well as evidence involving diet habits and environmental threats around the globe, are also presented. DNA methylation, the “on-and-off switch” of the epigenome, and other important concepts are featured. (43 minutes). Copyright 2008.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Epigenetics: How Food Upsets Our Genes (43:00)
Shorter videos
The following videos vary in length from about 10 to 25 minutes. If you choose one these, you will need to watch a second video and answer the questions for that one, too. Your second video can also be from the following list of videos, or it can be one that you found on your own.
Molecular Bypass. In this video segment, meet researchers who have developed a new kind of medicine that’s offering hope for people with serious illnesses like cancer, asthma, and Alzheimer’s. The origins of most diseases are genetic, but this is not genetic engineering. The technique works like a genetic patch, which jumps over a disease-causing part of the message as the DNA is being copied. Copyright 2010.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Molecular Bypass (12:00)
Genetic Engineering: Medical Ethics Real-World Applications. It’s one of the greatest breakthroughs in scientific history, but genetic engineering has also brought disturbing new questions. Should we push genetic research to its absolute limit, exploiting every discovery? What are the consequences of intervening in nature’s processes at their most fundamental level? Outlining the potential benefits of genetic engineering, such as the treatment or cure of hereditary diseases and the creation of better, more efficient crops, this program also explores the moral dilemma over cloning and the controversy that surrounds stem cell research. Viewers encounter both secular and religious perspectives in those debates — which will only acquire greater urgency as the scientific frontier advances. Viewable/printable educational resources are available online. Part of the series Medical Ethics: Real-World Applications. (19 minutes). Copyright 2011.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Genetic Engineering: Medical Ethics Real-World Applications (19:00)
Mutations: Changing the Code. Some of the most fascinating research in genetics today involves mutagens — physical, chemical, and biological agents capable of altering the structure of DNA. This program looks at the characteristics and behavior of mutagens and shows how they are prevalent in the world around us. For example, in the form of UV radiation, cosmic rays, and some radioactive isotopes, as well as synthetic chemicals and natural mutagens that may arise during the metabolism of certain foods. Viewers learn how mutagens either act directly on DNA or produce chemicals that cause rearrangements of the genetic code — leading, in some cases, to cancer and inherited disease. (23 minutes). Copyright 2009.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Mutations: Changing the Code (23:00)
The Ethics of Biotechnology. The Nuclear Age, sprung upon the world with the atomic bomb, remains a bitter memory. How biotechnology, with its power to change life on Earth at the most fundamental level, will be viewed in the decades to come depends on decisions being made right now. This program confronts viewers with some of the ethical and moral implications of cloning, stem cell research, and animal testing. Commentary is provided by Jeanne Ohrnberger, of Genetics Squared; Bob Forgey, of ProNAi Therapeutics; Drs. Elliott Hill, Brian Athey, and James Baker, of the University of Michigan; Len Fleck, of Michigan State University; and Susanne Kleff, of MBI International. A Films for the Humanities & Sciences Production. (24 minutes). Copyright 2009.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• The Ethics of Biotechnology (24:00)
Gene Therapy. Inheriting genes from your parents is a bit of a genetic lottery. In fact, there are thousands of known diseases that can be passed on through just one faulty gene. This video segment investigates the complex world of gene therapy. Diseases like, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, and cystic fibrosis could be prevented by repairing or replacing the defective gene that causes these conditions in the first place. Copyright 2008.
Click on the following link to watch the video:
• Gene Therapy (12:00)

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