June 9, 2004, by Teaching at Nottingham

Real life examples give context to learning in the lecture

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Liz Sockett: “A lot of the diseases earlier in the course, bacterial diseases, we would stop and talk, for a couple of minutes, about. For example, ‘Who has had a sore throat?’ We actually monitor symptoms on the registers. So as the students are sitting in the lecture they are filling in a register which is being passed round and I actually have ‘headache’, ‘sore throat’, ‘runny nose’ on the register, so week by week they’ve ticked their symptoms.

“Earlier in the course we’ve talked about this and we’ve actually looked at the rise of their symptoms because everyone’s lectures are full of coughing at the back end of October. That is because these guys come in and incubate bacterial and viral symptoms. So we’ve already done quite a lot of common disease and they have a lot more to give there because they can talk about their experiences.”


Liz Sockett: “Including the mad cow folder and the rather adorable mad cow pencil case which caught my eye first. If I say mad cow it is entirely in our culture now, it really is, you’re thinking it as you’re looking at me!

“However in the UK, for those of you who don’t know, we had an outbreak where these poor adorable creatures suffered horribly from an onset of a disease that was a brain spongiform encephalopathy. These creatures went from being adorable and able to walk to staggering around and in very sad condition.

“Although I have had, and I thank the people who sent me various websites for me to test whether I should barbecue my beef or not by the mooing of the cow, from which this guy comes.

“Although we made jokes about this, it caused a huge amount of animal suffering and death in the 1980s and 1990s. You guys were all in kindergarten at the time but I was around deciding what to barbecue, luckily mostly in the USA where there wasn’t too much of this going on.

“However the tragedy of this is that this was an example of feeding normally herbivorous animals ground up bone meal made from their relatives and sheep. From this, cattle in our food chain caught Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and from them we humans caught new variant CJD.

“They caught Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy by eating prion protein in the bone meal that was added to their food, and we caught it from them and some would say it definitely that it serves us right for what we fed them.”

Liz Sockett
School of Biology.

This article was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection.

Posted in Lectures