March 2005

Grant Results

SUMMARY

Project staff at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics created supplementary material to enhance the use of a CD-ROM to teach genomics and genetics to undergraduate science students.

Key Results

  • Project staff developed ancillary materials to supplement the existing CD-ROM, partly in response to the priorities identified in the faculty focus groups. These include:
    • Text and photographs for a case study on Alzheimer's disease.
    • Text for a case study on breast cancer.
    • A Web site that allows CD-ROM users to download updates and supplements.
    • A browser-based programming shell to improve compatibility.
    • Outlines of additional interactive courseware modules.
  • In collaboration with Bio-Link, a national consortium of undergraduate biotechnology training programs, and with a group of faculty from California universities, including Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and 20 community colleges, center staff submitted an application to the National Science Foundation to create and disseminate additional educational materials on genetics, using electronic technology.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $190,575 from May 2000 through April 2004.

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THE PROBLEM

With the rapid expansion of commercial genetic testing, physicians need to know more about new findings and methods in testing. The prevalence of computers and CD-ROM capabilities provided an opportunity to use technology as a tool to educate practicing physicians.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Human Genome Project originally funded the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics to develop a multimedia, interactive CD-ROM on genetics for physicians that carried continuing education credits and a modified version of the CD-ROM without the continuing education credits for use in the classroom. The department provided a total of $571,000 in three installments for this work from 1996 through 2000.

Staff at the Center for Biomedical Ethics initially intended to use RWJF funding to evaluate the CD-ROM with physician focus groups and then to produce a revised edition with additional content and animation. However, practicing physicians as a group had limited interest in the original CD-ROM while grantee staff found strong interest from university faculty.

As a result, the emphasis of the grant shifted to creating resources for undergraduate science classes and health services training programs.

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RWJF STRATEGY

At the time this grant was made, RWJF was engaged in exploratory work in genetics. A major theme of this work was the education of health professionals. The key related activity is the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (see Grant Results on ID#s 037749 and 043547), for which we are providing partial support. A grant to the University of Virginia (see Grant Results on ID# 035277) for development of a family history tool and algorithms for genetics risk assessment is part of the exploratory grantmaking in this area.

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THE PROJECT

With RWJF's approval, the grantee recast this project to focus on enhancing the resources available to those who teach genetics in undergraduate science programs, as well as in nursing and other health professional training programs, bioinformatics programs, and public health genetics units.

As part of this effort, the Center for Biomedical Ethics used RWJF funds to develop a collaborative process with Bio-Link, a national consortium of undergraduate biotechnology training programs formed in 1998 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Bio-Link was created to strengthen biotechnology education by enhancing professional development, improving curricula, and sharing information and technology.

With National Science Foundation funding, Bio-Link staff conducted two focus groups in California with faculty members who had used the center's genetics CD-ROM in their classroom.

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RESULTS

Project staff accomplished the following:

  • Developed ancillary materials to supplement the existing CD-ROM, partly in response to the priorities identified in the faculty focus groups. These include:
    • Text and photographs for a case study on Alzheimer's disease
    • Text for a case study on breast cancer
    • An expanded testing module (not yet in electronic form)
    • A Web site that allows CD-ROM users to download updates and supplements
    • A browser-based programming shell to improve compatibility
    • Outlines of additional interactive courseware modules
    • Animation storyboards, which are currently being evaluated by experts in the field.
  • Created a collaborative infrastructure with Bio-Link and a consortium of faculty from educational institutions in California, including Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and 20 community colleges. These faculty members have agreed to create additional content and evaluate resources for teaching undergraduate genomics and genetics once funding for the effort is secured.
  • Submitted a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation, in collaboration with Bio-Link, to produce, finalize, disseminate and evaluate educational materials on genetics for undergraduate students through electronic technology, building and expanding on what has already been created. A national evaluation is planned for the third year of the project. Two commercial publishers wrote letters of support for the proposal, expressing interest in publishing the materials.

Communications

The project director gave presentations about this project at the California State Universities Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology in 2002 and in 2004.

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AFTER THE GRANT

The grantee and Bio-Link are awaiting a decision from the National Science Foundation on their grant proposal. Project staff are also exploring the possibility of developing online genetics courses for nurses in collaboration with Wild Iris Productions, a major provider of continuing education for nurses.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Expanding the New Genetics: Interactive Courseware for Physicians

Grantee

Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics (Palo Alto,  CA)

  • Amount: $ 190,575
    Dates: May 2000 to April 2004
    ID#:  037556

Contact

Sara L. Tobin, Ph.D.
(650) 723-5760 or (650) 725-2663
tobinsl@stanford.edu

Web Site

http://www.twistedladdermedia.com

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

World Wide Web Sites

www.twistedladdermedia.com. "The New Genetics Series" includes ordering instructions for two versions of the CD-ROM on genetics, sample animations and features of the CD. Palo Alto, Calif.: March 2001.

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Report prepared by: Nanci Healy
Reviewed by: Karyn Feiden
Reviewed by: Marian Bass
Program Officer: Constance M. Pechura

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