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By: Debbie | April 19 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Evolution in Medicien Cover ImageTeachers can now order the FREE new curriculum supplement, Evolution in Medicine, sponsored by 11 participating National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers and the Office of the Director. This supplement for grades 9 through 12 allows students to explore evolutionary principles and learn how evolution informs human health, biomedical problems, and disease treatment. The supplement contains two weeks of lessons that are easily integrated into your curriculum and are aligned to national and state standards.  Order your FREE copy today!

The following lessons are included in Evolution and Medicine:

Ideas about the Role of Evolution in Medicine

Students learn to recognize that understanding the mechanisms of evolution, especially adaptation by natural selection, enhances medical practice and knowledge. Using an evolutionary tree, explore how common ancestry shapes the characteristics of living organisms.

Investigating Lactose Intolerance and Evolution

Students can understand that natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism to consistently yield adaptations and that some of the variation among humans that may affect health is distributed geographically.

Evolutionary Processes and Patterns Inform Medicine

Students examine how health and disease are related to human evolution and understand why some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. Analyze data and apply principles of natural selection to explain the relatively high frequency of disease in certain populations.

Using Evolution to Understand Influenza

Students understand how comparisons of genetic sequences are important for studying biomedical problems and informing public health decisions. Apply evolutionary theory to explain the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.

Evaluating Evolutionary Explanations

Students understand the importance of evidence in interpreting examples of evolution and medicine. Appreciate that natural selection and common ancestry can explain why humans are susceptible to many diseases.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education (NIHSciEd) through multiple channels:
By: Cindy | February 28 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Rare Diseases Day LogoThis year’s theme: “Rare But Strong Together”

We’ve been thinking a lot about rare diseases in the office this year, as we wrapped up production of our latest middle school curriculum supplement, Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry. It’ll help students explore how scientists research rare diseases and treatments and learn about the workings of the human body. It’s almost ready to ship to educators, which is amazing, since it’s time again to observe Rare Disease Day!

The first Rare Disease Day took place in Europe and Canada during our last leap year, Feb. 29, 2008. Sponsored by alliances of patient groups External Web Site Policy, it was created to raise awareness about rare diseases and improve their treatment and patients’ access to treatment. Over the next four years, dozens of countries have joined in, and last year, more than 60 countries from all over the world participated.

NIH celebrates Rare Disease Day at an all- day series of talks, posters, and exhibits on the main campus in Bethesda, MD. The focus is on research supported by NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Organization of Rare Disorders, and the Genetics Alliance. You can follow the events of the day on Twitter: #NIHORDR.

Wearing your favorite pair of jeans is one way to show your support for Rare Disease Day, thanks to a campaign the Global Genes ProjectExternal Web Site Policylaunched 2009. The connection? Jeans and genes are universal – as are rare diseases. More than 7,000 rare diseases affect 30 million people in the United States alone, and about three-quarters of these are children.

To request a copy of Rare Diseases or find out more about it, visit

For more information about rare diseases, see

For more about global campaigns to raise awareness and fund rare diseases resea rch, go to the Rare Project site: External Web Site Policy
For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and med i cal science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channel s:
By: Debbie | September 8 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

High School Student with DNA ModelA new studyExternal Web Site Policy by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)External Web Site Policy, the country’s leading genetics scientific society, found that more than 85 percent of states have genetics standards that are inadequate for preparing America’s high school students for future participation in a society and health care system that are certain to be increasingly impacted by genetics-based personalized medicine.

“Science education in the United States is based on testing and accountability standards that are developed by each state,” said Michael Dougherty, PhD, director of education at ASHG and the study’s lead author. “These standards determine the curriculum, instruction, and assessment of high school level science courses in each state, and if standards are weak, then essential genetics content may not be taught.”

According to ASHG’s study, which included all 50 states and the District of Columbia:
  • Only seven states have genetics standards that were rated as ‘adequate’ for genetic literacy (Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington).
  • Of the 19 core concepts in genetics that were deemed essential by ASHG, 14 were rated as being covered inadequately by the nation as a whole (or were absent altogether).
  • Only two states, Michigan and Delaware, had more than 14 concepts (out of 19) rated as adequate. Twenty-three states had six or fewer concepts rated as adequate.
“ASHG’s findings indicate that the vast majority of U.S. students in grade 12 may be inadequately prepared to understand fundamental genetic concepts,” said Edward McCabe, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and geneticist who is the executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado. “Healthcare is moving rapidly toward personalized medicine, which is infused with genetics. Therefore, it is essential we provide America’s youth with the conceptual toolkit that is necessary to make informed healthcare decisions, and the fact that these key concepts in genetics are not being taught in many states is extremely concerning.”

“We hope the results of ASHG’s analysis help influence educators and policy makers to improve their state’s genetics standardsExternal Web Site Policy,” said Dougherty. “Alternatively, deficient states might benefit from adopting science standards from the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, which, although not perfect, does a better job of addressing genetics concepts than most state standards that are currently in place.”

The study was published in the American Society for Cell Biology's External Web Site Policy CBE–Life Sciences Education journal – for a full-text copy of the paper, please go to:

Related NIH Resources:
By: Debbie | August 27 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NIDA Back to School LogoStudents and teachers alike are heading back to school, so it’s a good time to instruct youngsters about the dangers of drug abuse.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers a number of science-based drug abuse education resources to help you get started:

The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction (Grades 9-12)

A teacher’s guide to lessons that include state-of-the art instructional practices about the fundamentals of neurobiology. Students will learn how drugs of abuse change the brain and that drug addiction is a treatable, chronic brain disease.

NIDA for Teens Web Site

An exhaustive set of links to drug education resources including:
  • PEERx—Information, activities, and homework assignments to help teens better understand the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse.
  • Sara Bellum Blog—Written by a team of NIDA scientists, science writers, and public health analysts. Students can connect with the latest scientific research and to help them make healthy, smart decisions.
  • Mind Over Matter Series (Grades 5-9)—Designed to encourage young people to learn about the effects of drug abuse on the body and the brain.
Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program (Grades K-9)
  • Brain Power! (Grades K-1)—The program begins with the premise that a group of children has formed a Brain Power! Club that receives missions from NIDA. Each module is built around a mission—a problem or scientific question.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 2-3) — A curriculum consisting of 6 modules that lays the foundation for future scientific learning and substance abuse prevention efforts by providing an early elementary school-age audience with a basis of knowledge and critical thinking skills.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 4-5)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through hands-on science investigations, a videotape, and supplementary activities that are linked to other areas of the curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 6-9)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through the interactive Brain Power! Challenge curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.

Heads Up: Real News about Drugs and Your Body (Grades 6-10)

A collection of articles designed to teach students about the repercussions of drug use. These articles were published in Scholastic magazine.

Ask Dr. NIDA

Use this form to email Dr. NIDA with your questions. Dr. NIDA will write back to you with straight answers.

Real Stories

Teens who have struggled with drug addictions share their experiences.

Facts on Drugs

Get the real facts about how different drugs affect the brain and body.

Brain Games

Exercise your brain and test your knowledge of drugs and the way they affect your brain and body. You can join Sara Bellum on her quest or go head-to-head with Dr. NIDA, test your memorization skills with Pick-a-Card, or have fun with the other games on this page.
By: Cindy | April 20 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Alcohol Awareness Month imageIt’s also National Arab American Heritage, Autism, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Manatee, Marching Band, Occupational Therapy, Parkinson’s Disease, Pet First Aid, Poetry, Stress, and Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, not to mention National Anxiety, Child Abuse Prevention, Humor, and Welding Month.

But let’s get back to alcohol. Singling out a month for alcohol awareness began in 1987. It would be a way to encourage communities to focus on alcohol-related problems, according to the founding organization, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)External Web Site Policy. Many people are affected by alcoholism besides the alcoholic, and raising awareness about that helps support the alcoholic’s loved ones. Alcohol plays a leading role in our most difficult social problems, including crime, homelessness, teen pregnancy, and domestic violence.

NCADD was founded in 1944 by the first female member of Alcoholics AnonymousExternal Web Site Policy. The organization is dedicated to lowering the stigma surrounding substance abuse. April’s awareness theme this year is “When Love Is Not Enough: Helping Families Coping with Alcoholism.”

April 8 was National Alcohol Screening Day. At sites across the country, people were offered information, screening questionnaires, and a chance to talk with substance abuse and treatment professionals. If you missed it, check for the date early next year.

Our office develops curricula about science that draw on the research being done by NIH investigators, and the one called Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior is one of my favorites. It’s a collection of six lessons for middle school science classes that take about seven class periods to complete. The background materials for teachers, handouts for students, and a Web site with interactive activities were developed and nationally field-tested, along with the lessons, over the course of two years.

The tone of our curricula is objective, not proscriptive, and they’ve all been aligned with state and national science standards. Students learn not only about the biology of alcohol in the human body and it social consequences in this module. They also get to work in groups, develop reasoning skills, summarize their findings, and problem solve – all essential skills nowadays.

If you use our curricula, we would love to get your feedback!

NCADD Web Site Policy

About Alcohol Awareness Month
Frequently Asked Questions about Alcohol and Health nglish/
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