Unifying the Laboratory Curriculum: Isocitrate Dehydrogenase (IDH) as a Model Enzyme

A. Malcolm Campbell and John H. Williamson
Biology Dept., Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28036


A subset of the Biology Department at Davidson College has devised a novel paradigm to unify the laboratory curriculum: we have adopted isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH; EC number as a model enzyme. The paradigm enables students to integrate the information from different courses more easily and fosters faculty collaborations. The courses affected fall under the heading of "cell and molecular" and could include: introductory biology, biochemistry, cell biology, development, genetics, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology. The purpose for adopting an enzyme is to facilitate several pedagogical objectives. IDH is an enzyme that is often covered in courses, while peroxidase and tyrosinase (enzymes frequently used in teaching labs) are not often covered in lecture. We want students to learn that each subdiscipline has different tools to look at different aspects of common concern. Students learn that subdisciplines with distinct boundaries are artificial separations of a continuum of biology. We want students to benefit from learning about one enzyme early in their careers, and then use this as a model system in upper level courses. Students can conduct pedagogical research and/or basic research on this enzyme as a part of independent research courses. Using IDH has eliminated toxins required with more traditional enzymes. This unifying enzyme has increased collaborations among faculty members to develop new investigatory labs. It allows us to take advantage of the genome organisms and the huge databases that are freely available. We have developed many teaching labs that utilized IDH and will continue this effort which can be found at <http://bio.davidson.edu/Biology/IDH.html>.

Introductory Biology
Moleculecular Biology
Developmental Biology
Cell Biology

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