This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Faculty Workshop: Implementing Investigative Cases and Technology in Biology and Chemistry at Center for Science Education in August 2004. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Why Kazami died young?

An automobile executive, Kazumi Sasaki, had a fatal heart attack at the age of 58. For the past few years, he had been suffering from a variety of ailments including peptic ulcers and diabetes.

His twin brother Ozumi came from Japan for the funeral. His parents could not make it as Kazumi’s grandfather (age 103) is in critical condition.

Kazumi was born in Okinawa, Japan, and came to US about 30 years ago when his automobile company opened its US headquarters. Kazumi worked long hours and was promoted recently to senior VP (operations). Kazumi smoked rarely, was a social drinker and had access to excellent health care through his company.

Unlike Kazumi, Ozumi decided to take care of the family fishing business and to remain in Okinawa. Although Ozumi smokes and drinks, he seems to be enjoying excellent health.

Kazumi's son, a 4th year medical student at Emory is perplexed why his father died young. His uncle appears healthy and there is no family history of premature death. He is concerned about his own longevity.

Case Author:
Swamy Mruthinti State University of West Georgia

Case Analysis

Factors contributed to Kuzami's health problems Factors contributed Kuzami's death Despite smoking and alcohol consumption his twin brother how Ozumi maintained excellent health

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


Be able to know the factors affecting health and longevity.
Be able to understand how external factors such job stress and internal factors such as coping with the stress affect health and longevity.
Effect of traditional diet on health and longevity.
Nature vs. Nurture



Investigations and Activities

Find cultural differences between US and Japan (Okinawa).
Find dietary differences between Japan (Okinawa) and US.
Find the correlation between high profile job and health and longevity.
Find the how genes determine longevity.
Interventions of aging (metabolic, genetic, behavioral etc)



Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items

Death report coroners report Kazumi and Ozumi's childhood pictures on Okinawa Recent family portrait of Kazumi's family Recent extended family portrait of Sasaki's family during their recent visit

Ozumi farming

1. DeathCertificate.doc
2. Swamy-1.jpg
3. Coroners report.doc


Student Products

1. Send a short (limit 1 page) to Kazumi's son which aspects of his father's life may have contibuted his premature death.
2. Students need to submit 10 page paper on nature vs. nurture on health and longevity with citations.
3. Students have to visit at least 2 times the UWG writing center for constructive criticism on their paper.
4.Individual/group presentations on one of the following topics Traditional Diet and longevity Smoking and longevity Stress and longevity Genetic determinants of longevity Altering aging – caloric restriction Metabolic interventions Possible treatment options for the people who are at high risk

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

Students will be graded on their written assignments (60%), presentation (30%) and for using UWG writing center (10%).



Course name:
Biology of Aging
Likely sequence in syllabus:
After Genes, Diet and Cultural differences and Longevity
Time during term:
middle of the semester
4 weeks
Students in course:
Collaborative elements:
Additional notes:



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