ABE Curriculum

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ABE Lab Materials

The ABE curriculum allows students to learn about core technologies used by scientists in the discovery of human therapeutics, so that they will better understand the role of biotechnology and the potential impact of this industry on our future.

Note: The teacher guides are password-protectedplease contact the ABE Program Office for access.

The ABE labs allow students to carry out some of the important steps in the biotechnology industry to develop medicines to treat a variety of diseases. By engaging in this program, students will be more motivated to understand the underlying science concepts, develop critical laboratory skills, and be equipped to pursue future careers in science.

If students complete the full sequence of ABE labs (which takes ~3 weeks), they will produce a recombinant DNA molecule and then use it to transform E. coli.

Audio Book

  • The ABE Student Guide is now available as an audio book.

En español

(c) 2014 en español: La Guía del profesor—todas secuencias  |  La Guía del estudiante—todas secuencias


ABE Non-Lab Materials

Module 1: You Becoming You (6–8 class periods)

Students are introduced to the concept of genes which code for the traits that are expressed by organisms and examine the genetics of some familiar organisms.

Module 2: Chasing CF (8–9 class periods)

Students become engaged in learning about the disease cystic fibrosis (CF): they develop questions that they have about CF, its treatment, and its consequences, and then explore how they can transform their questions into scientific questions that can be investigated. Students also examine real data to determine how CF is inherited, experiment with osmosis to explore the disease’s possible mechanism of action, and investigate transcription and translation of CFTR exons. Supporting article: H Andersen, D & G Hodges. (1946). CELIAC SYNDROMEV. Genetics of Cystic Fibrosis of the Pancreas With a Consideration of Etiology. American journal of diseases of children (1911).

Module 3: What Can We Learn from Extreme Phenotypes? (8–14 class periods)

Students learn that genetics is more complex than the simple binary relationship it is often portrayed as having. They explore how extreme phenotypes can be used to inform our understanding of drug development and investigate some of the cutting edge techniques being used in biotechnology today, including genome wide association studies and CRISPR-Cas9.


ABE eLearning

Bioethics of Gene Editing

Lyme disease is a pervasive problem in the United States. Kevin Esvelt, a scientists at MIT, is trying to use gene editing to disrupt the cycle of transmission. In this module, students learn about gene editing using the CRISPR process and consider the ethics of four case studies in which biotechnology is used to solve human problems. After learning about specific cases, students decide whether they agree or disagree with using gene editing to help solve a human problem and share their thoughts with their classmates.


Many people are aware of the main two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. However, few people know that there are other types of diabetes. One type occurs in pregnant women (gestational diabetes), but there are others still. A rare type of diabetes is called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). MODY is frequently misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Different types of diabetes require different treatment, so determining the genetics of diabetes becomes important in developing and prescribing treatments.
In this module, students use bioinformatics to study a Norwegian family in which several members had MODY to better understand the causes of this rare genetic disorder and also to learn more about insulin.

 Responding to a Mystery Illness

Student Materials
Teacher Guide (The Teacher Guide requires a password. Please contact ABEinfo@edc.org with your name, school/organization, and location to obtain the password.)

This resource is based on real events, though the timeline and details may have been changed to allow it to be used for educational purposes. As part of an imaginary WHO team, students help determine which organism is causing a mysterious illness first described in China, try to halt its spread, and begin the work of developing a vaccine.

Saving a Life

A man drinks an unknown liquid and soon is found unresponsive in an emergency room. Students use bioinformatics tools to investigate what substance caused such a life-threatening response. 

The ABE curriculum should be used for educational purposes only.

Total Student Participation
Teacher Participation for 2018-19 School Year