Sara L. Tobin and Ann Boughton
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, and Thumbnail Graphics, 228 Northwest 32nd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118.
Progressive identification of new genes and implications for medical treatment of genetic diseases appear almost daily in the scientific and medical literature, as well as in public media reports. However, most individuals do not understand the power or the promise of the current explosion in knowledge of the human genome. This is also true of physicians, most of whom completed their medical training prior to the application of recombinant DNA technology to medical diagnosis and treatment. This lack of training prevents physicians from appreciating many of the recent advances in molecular genetics and may delay their acceptance of new treatment regimens. In particular, physicians practicing in rural communities are often limited in their access to resources that would bring them into the mainstream of current molecular developments. This project is designed to fill two important functions: first, to provide solid training for physicians in the field of molecular medical genetics, including the impact, implications, and potential of this field for the treatment of human disease; second, to utilize physicians as informed community resources who can educate both their patients and community groups about the new genetics.
We propose to develop a flexible, user-friendly, interactive multimedia CD-ROM designed for continuing education of physicians in applications of molecular medical genetics. To initiate these objectives, we will develop the design of the CD and will produce a prototype providing a detailed presentation of one of the four training areas. These areas are (1) Genetics, including DNA as a molecular blueprint, chromosomes as vehicles for genetic information, and patterns of inheritance; (2) Recombinant techniques, stressing cloning and analytical tools and techniques applied to medical case studies; (3) Current and future clinical applications, encompassing the human genome project, technical advances, and disease diagnosis and prognosis; and (4) Societal implications, focusing on approaches to patient counseling, genetic dilemmas faced by patients and practitioners, and societal values and development of an ethical consensus. Area (2) will be presented in the prototype.
The CD format will permit the use of animation, video, and audio, in addition to graphic illustrations and photographs. We will build on our existing base of computer generated illustrations. A hypertext glossary, user notes, practice tests, and customized settings will be utilized to tailor the CD to the needs of the user. Brief, multiple-choice examinations will be evaluated for continuing medical education credits by the Office of Continuing Medical Education. The CD will be programmed to permit updates of scientific and medical advances either by downloading from the Internet or from a disc available by subscription.
This is a cooperative project involving individuals with documented expertise in teaching of molecular medical genetics, continuing medical education, graphic design, and CD-ROM production. The content of the CD will be supervised by a scientific board of directors. We present mechanisms for the evaluation of the CD by rural Oklahoma physicians. Arrangements have been made for distribution of the CD by a national publisher of medical and scientific materials. This CD will provide a powerful tool to educate physicians and the public about the power and potential of the human genome project for the benefit of human health.
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