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ASMS Biology Instructor Incorporates New SARS-CoV-2 Research Into Her Class

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ASMS Biology Department faculty member, Dr. Natalie Ortell, regularly introduces cutting edge research into her curriculum and class instruction. She was recently able to do this when a new research study on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was released.

In Dr. Ortell's Biosystems course, they are just starting their unit on elements in Biosystems. She often begins the class with a question - "Why do you need calcium?" Students typically respond with "for your bones." Ortell will then explain that calcium is so much more than just bone density, it is extremely important in being able to contract your muscles -- for example, pumping your heart.

As part of her lesson this year, Ortell brought in breaking news research on SARS-CoV-2 to jump start their unit on elements. One of her students responded with, "I have to remember all of this so I can tell my mom," which is a huge compliment for a teacher!

Calcium Tsunami

The new study was discussed on one of Ortell's favorite podcasts -- This Week in Virology. The study looked at how SARS-CoV-2 infection creates passages between heart cells that not only lets the virus move from cell to cell but also creates calcium tsunamis which could cause acute heart failure in patients, this recent study showed.

Ortell read the paper and worked to quickly incorporate the current knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 with the role of calcium in our cells. "The paper actually filmed the calcium tsunami happening in their heart cell cultures which was super cool to show the students. The kids had a great time (I'm pretty sure haha)," says Ortell.

Ortell expressed that these examples are what she loves most about ASMS. She has the flexibility to share all of the recent research with her students, and they are all just as excited to learn about it as she is. It results in them asking a ton of questions!

  • Nov 13, 2020