Bringing Biology to Life

Note: I cross-posted this on my cliotech blog.

Okay – I admit that the title is pretty corny, but I really wanted to share a resource that I came across in eSchool News today.

The research department at Children’s Hospital Boston has developed a series of web-based Flash tutorials to present complex medical and biological concepts in an interactive, user-friendly format. These free science “interactives” are useful for students and educators, as well as anyone interested in the latest medical research and how it works.

Click here to access the tutorials.

Here are some highlights.

The Neuron – Experiment with Children’s virtual neuron to see what conditions are needed to make it fire and what happens when you connect it to other neurons. This interactive feature also provides step-through animations illustrating how electrical currents move through the cell and how it passes signals on to other neurons.

How cancer grows and spreads – This animated Flash presentation illustrates the growth, progression and metastasis of carcinomas, the type of cancer that accounts for more than 90% of all cancer cases. Using the presentation’s “roadmap,” you’ll be able to choose your own route as you travel from one possible cancer stage to the next.

Virtual stem cell laboratory – Create red blood cells, muscle cells, neurons, and other types of specialized cells from an initial “culture” of embryonic stem cells. By adding factors to the cells, you can coax the cells into differentiating into new cell types, and you can find out what scientists know about the cells, including any known or potential therapeutic applications.

Ingber’s egg analogy -Don Ingber, MD, PhD, of Children’s Vascular Biology Program, often uses simple analogies in his lectures to explain how tissues form and how diseases develop. In this Flash presentation, he uses eggs in a carton to illustrate how cells in our tissues behave during wound healing and tumor formation.

Although I am not a scientist, I found those four tutorials to be engaging and easy to understand. I haven’t explored the other six topics, but imagine that they are of the same excellent quality.

Click here to access the tutorials.

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