Biology 540 
Fall 2003  1 credit


Eugenics Tree

    E. E. Serrano
     Aug 20 - Oct 22
     Wednesdays  3:30 - 5:00 pm
     Conroy Honors Building Rm 206


Instructions for journal and case study 

Important dates:
     NOV 1:   JOURNAL
     DEC 12:   FINAL EXAM




GOALS: This course will provide an introduction to the field of Bioethics for graduate students.  Students will be asked to examine the role of the scientist in society and to become aware of the complex ethical issues facing scientists engaged in biological research. Class sessions emphasize student participation and debate and use case studies as a format for discussion.  The course will focus on the ethical dilemmas that can arise from professional interactions in the workplace including scientific misconduct, advisor/student relationships, intellectual property, conflicts of interest, data ownership and management etc. This year’s special ethical topics include stem cell research, bioterrorism, environmental justice, eugenics, and national security.  The goals of this course are to provide students with a practical foundation in research ethics, and to encourage students to critically examine and evaluate the impact and consequences of scientific research. 
Instructor Dr. Elba Serrano
Ph. D. Stanford University
Associate Professor of Biology, NMSU
Research Interests: Neuroscience, Biophysics, Sensory Systems
Office Foster Hall 337D
Office hours Wed 12:00-1:00 pm  and by appointment
Telephone 646-5217
  • Scientific Integrity, Macrina, 2000
  • Research Ethics: A Reader, Elliott and Stern 1997
  • Who Owns Life? by Magnus, Caplan, McGee, 2003
  • RecommendedTextbooks :

    Thought-provoking books 
    for your personal library

    Practical Companion to Ethics, Anthony Weston, 2001
    The Meaning of It All,  Feynman 1998
    Advice for a Young Investigator, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, 1897 (1999)
    Fast Food Nation The Dark Side of the All-American Meal,  Eric Schlosser, 2001

    Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn 1995
    Environmental Ethics: An Anthology by Light, Rolston   (2002)
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    , by Jared Diamond (1999)

    Textbook Vendors Textbooks can be obtained at the bookstore or online from vendors such as Amazon and ecampus or Best Book Buys

    Aug 20
    Course Introduction
    Analytical Frameworks
    Ethics and the scientistX
    Analyzing ethical dilemmas
    Historical perspectives
    Aug 27
    Ethics and Philosophy
    Analytical Frameworks
    Scientific Integrity
    Analyzing ethical dilemmas
    Research Integrity and Scientific Misconduct
    Mentoring of Students
    Sept  3
    Scientific Integrity
    Ethics in the classroom
    Authorship and Peer Review
    Sept 10
    Scientific Integrity
    Professional Codes of Conduct 
    Funding for research
    Conflicting Interests and Collaborative Research
    Sept 17
    Scientific Integrity

    Intellectual Property
    Guidelines for use of animals and humans in research
    Sept 24
    National Security

    Bioterrorism, Infectious Agents
    Lynchburg, Tuskegee, Nazi experimentation
    Oct 1
    Student presentations
    Group 1 Who Owns Life?  Vinod, Caro, Lori
    Group 2 Stem cells:  Marian, Will
    Oct 8
    Student presentations Group 3 Genome Projects / Genetic testing  Amy,  Ricardo M,
    roup 4 Genetic engineering of plants and animals
    Josue, Ricardo G, Bryan
    Oct 15
    Fall break Prepare debates

    Oct  22 last class
    Resource Allocation exercise
    Student Choices
    Nov 1 Hand in Journal   to Dr. Serrano in Foster 234

    December 12
    Class meets for two hours
    In class  written exam (open book, notes)


    Grading: A total of 500 pts may be earned during the course.
    In class participation: (150  pts) Based on your contribution to class discussion, activities as session moderator or group leader and evidence of preparedness for class.
    Journal assignment: (175 pts) Students will be required to maintain a mini-journal on a topic of their choice during the course. The objective of this assignment is for students to explore their own values and ethics in the context of scientific issues that are raised by media articles, TV programs, science classes, lab exercises, research experiences etc. Details of the journal will be posted  here. INSTRUCTIONS link   DUE DATE: November 1 

    Case studies (100 points) Students will be required to write up and turn in an analysis of case studies assigned by the instructor from the textbooks. A cover essay will be part of this assignment.  Details of the case studies will be posted here.  Instructions link DUE DATE: October 8

    Final Exam (75 points). Open book essay questions

    Late assignments. 10% of the total points will be deducted for each week the assignment is late. Assignments will not be accepted if handed in more than 2 weeks after the due date.
    Attendance: Debate and discussion are essential components of this class, therefore, students are expected to attend all classes.
    25 points will be deducted from your overall points for each unexcused absence.
    Grade Scale:
    A 450-500 pts
    B 400-449 pts
    C 350-399 pts
    D 300-349 pts
    F < 300 pts
    S (Satisfactory) requires a C-
    Note: The grade scale may be curved at the end of the semester at the discretion of the instructor.
    Important dates:
    Oct 8:  Case studies due
    Nov 1:  Journal  due
    Exam week:  Final exam Class will meet for two hours; time TBA
    GUIDELINES FOR CLASS DISCUSSION: During the semester, many opinions will be voiced in the class. You may strongly disagree with some of these, or you may find them amusing. Outbursts can be misinterpreted or counterproductive to meaningful and thoughtful debate. Therefore, it is important that you exercise self-discipline and self-control, and treat all members of the class with the courtesy that you are entitled to receive in turn. The key words are: respect and courtesy. Thank you!

    SYLLABUS MODIFICATION: The instructor reserves the right to modify this syllabus during the semester as considered necessary to enhance the quality of the instruction, to meet the needs of students in the class and to achieve course objectives. Any changes to the syllabus [or to the course schedule] will be announced in class and you are responsible for being aware of them.

    STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: If you have or believe you have a disability, you may wish to self-identify. You can do so by providing documentation to the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities, located at Garcia Annex (phone 646-6840). Appropriate accommodations may then be provided for you.

    XEROX and/or BACKUP all assignments before submitting them to the instructor.

    SAVE xeroxes of all graded assignments and exams from this course at least until you have received your final grade.

    WITHDRAWALS:  It is your responsibility to withdraw from the course.
    DEPARTMENT OFFICE:     The Biology Department office is in FOSTER HALL 234, 646-3611.  The department secretaries are Ms. Gloria Valencia and Ms. Reta Akers.

    DEPARTMENT CHAIR:     The Biology Department chair is Dr. Dan Howard.  His office is in FOSTER HALL 234 (X63611).

      The department secretaries are Ms. Gloria Valencia and Ms. Reta Akers.

    DEPARTMENT CHAIR:     The Biology Department chair is Dr. Dan Howard.  His office is in FOSTER HALL 234 (X63611).