Red Light, Green Light: Cell Division and Angelina Jolie


Created by Paul Ogg, Melissa Krebs, Vida Melvin, Amanda Charlesworth, and Melanie Badtke, this lesson teaches how cells regulate cell division using some lecture interspersed with interactive activities including clicker questions, pair/share, and class discussion, applying concepts to Angelina Jolie's BRCA1 mutation.

The authors write that the focus is on "how to distinguish proto-oncogenes, oncogenes, and tumor suppressors by exploring how they can influence cellular division / proliferation. We have the students come to class with definitions of these written down, and then explore in class the effect they have on cell division" through various activities.

(Text from the Yale Center for Scientific Teaching's Teachable Tidbits).

The lesson breakdown is below:

Learning Objective



If they have learned it, what will students know and be able to do?

What will students do to learn it?


Define proto-oncogene, oncogene, tumor suppressor and their functions.

Read chapter, Pre-class quiz

Relate the amount of DNA to cell cycle.

Clicker question to relate amount of DNA to cell cycle

Utilize histogram to understand distribution of individuals in a population.

Poll students to aid in construction of sample cell cycle histogram

Recognize that different cells can be in different phases of the cell cycle.

Poll students to construct sample cell cycle histogram

Interpret flow cytometry data and relate to function of cell cycle regulators.

Pair/Share to discuss how an oncogene changes profile of cell population

Transfer this knowledge to interpret flow data for function of tumor suppressors.


Clicker question to probe student understanding of this concept by changing something else to get same profile

Apply knowledge of oncogenes and tumor suppressors to medically-relevant situation.


Group discussion about Angelina Jolie’s BRCA1 mutation 

Summative question on HPV

Connect research data to real patient decisions.

Group discussion about Angelina Jolie’s BRCA1 mutation

The corresponding powerpoint is attached.
Additional materials are available at the Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale.
This activity was contributed by Yale University.
presentation.pptx1.77 MB