The Modules

MI DNA Day module list:

  • DNA Damage and Cancer
  • Forensics
  • Genomics and Inheritance
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Epigenetics

DNA Damage and Cancer DNA Damage2.jpg

Students will learn how DNA mutations can lead to cancer, specifically focusing on the inheritance of the BRCA1 gene and its contribution to breast cancer. Students will analyze DNA sequences and compare the affect of different mutations on the resulting protein sequence. Students will also consider other ways DNA mutations can be introduced with a focus on UV light. For longer or more advanced classes, students will also discuss ways our cells repair DNA damage and how this has informed cancer treatments.

DNA Damage and Cancer Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

DNA Damage and Cancer Overview (pdf, 2019)

BRCA1 Mutation Activity (pdf, 2019)

BRCA1 Mutation Activity Key (pdf, 2019)

DNA Damage and Cancer Module Presenter’s Guide (Word, 2019)

Codon Table (pdf, 2019)


Students will learn how forensic scientists analyze DNA in order to link a DNA sample to a particular individual. Students will learn about powerful molecular biology techniques such as PCR, restriction digests, and gel electrophoresis. To learn more about DNA and how it is used by forensic scientists, students will isolate DNA from their own saliva! Using their newfound understanding of DNA and forensics techniques, students will help solve an interactive “Whodunit?” case.

Forensics Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

Forensics Module Overview (pdf, 2019)

Forensics Module Skit Script (pdf, 2017-present)

Forensics Module Suspect Sheets (pdf, 2017-present)


Students will learn the ins and outs of the human genome – what makes us each unique and how traits are inherited. Hands on activities include DNA isolation from their own saliva and completing a Punnet square to determine inheritance in flowers. For longer or more advanced classes, students will learn how Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) help identify genes responsible for complex human disease.

Genomics Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

Genomics Module Overview (pdf, 2019)

Punnet Square Activity Workshop (pdf, 2019)


Students will learn about the concept of “personalized” medicine, like how differences in our genes affect whether a drug treatment will be successful or have serious side effects, and how we can use this information to customize treatments for individual patients. Students will participate in a hands-on activity to further demonstrate how subtle differences affect a patient’s response to medication.

Pharmacogenomics Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

Pharmacogenomics Module Overview (pdf, 2019)

Pharmacogenomics Module Skit (pdf, 2019)



Students will learn basic concepts in microbiology and immunology, including the difference between bacteria and viruses, and why treatments (such as antibiotics) work on one type of microbes, but not the other. Students will also learn about the immune system and be able to explain how vaccines work. Hands-on activities include an exercise to demonstrate how antibiotic resistance evolves. Extended topics for longer or advanced classes include cancer immunology, neuroinflammation, epidemiology, and microbes in the environment.

Micro/Immuno Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

Micro/Immuno Module Overview (pdf, 2019)

Micro/Immuno Module Extended Topics (ppt, 2019)

Micro/Immuno Module Presenter’s Guide (Word, 2019)

Micro/Immuno Module Activity Guide (pdf, 2018-present)

Micro/Immuno Module Activity Sheet (pdf, 2018-present)


Students will learn about epigenetics, or how the features of a person (phenotype) might be different even if their genome (genotype) is identical. Students will be presented with both mechanisms and real-world examples of epigenetics. Hands-on activities include following a set of twins through various life decisions and seeing how their phenotypes might differ from each other over time.

Epigenetics Module Presentation (ppt, 2019)

Epigenetics Module Overview (pdf, 2019)

Epigenetics Module Activity Guide (pdf, 2019)


Thanks to the graduate students, postdocs, and faculty who helped design the MI DNA Day modules!

  • Julie Philippe (Curriculum leader)
  • Andrea Pesch (Curriculum leader)
  • Katherine Bonefas (special thanks for contribution to 2 modules)
  • Catherine Barnier
  • Amanda Moccia
  • Kate Van Pelt
  • Rahasudha Kannan
  • Alexander Monovich
  • Lucas Huffman
  • Haley Brown
  • Samantha Kemp
  • Leigh Baker
  • Sandra Carson
  • Muyu Situ





Interested in designing a new module?

We are very interested in expanding our list of possible modules. If you have an idea, let us know! We can work with you to build an engaging and interactive module for an upcoming DNA Day.

Contact us here or by emailing us at