Assessment example: Presentations

Assessment introduction

In this course you are embarking on an exciting journey into the world of biomedical sciences and will make use a number of amazing techniques that have been instrumental in solving real world problems. For this assignment, working in teams, you will prepare a presentation on an assigned topic. Your task is to present an overview of the assigned topic to your audience, and highlight its main uses and applications. Please note that there are multiple bullet points listed under each set of instructions. Depending on the size of the class/number of groups you can assign individual bullet points to groups to avoid redundancy in presentations.


Each team is to prepare an enthusiastic and engaging 10-minute PowerPoint presentation. A 10-15 minute question period will follow each presentation. These questions will test the team’s knowledge of the content in their presentation. Any content shown on the slides is fair game for questions – so be sure to design your slides with great care! It is expected that each team member understands every aspect of every slide presented. We do not have a strict policy on exactly who in the team presents. We will leave this up to each team to decide, but we would like more than one person to present. What we are strict on is equal individual participation. Everyone in the team must participate equally in the design and delivery of each presentation. To this end, everyone in the team is equally responsible for the question period. This is a team mark, however this only occurs if we (the instructors) are satisfied that everyone in the team contributed equally to this assessment type. Individual marks can be given to individuals not contributing appropriately throughout this process.

What we are we look for in a presentation?

  • Well-constructed slides (diagrams made by the students, clear, aligned properly, good use of color and text, consistency throughout)
  • Pace and logical flow: a presentation that flows seamlessly between slides and concepts (we are especially focused on the use of slide content and its integration in the presentation – do not use your slide as a backdrop, meaning you talk without referring and pointing to your slides)
  • An engaging talk (meaning that the content is very well presented and keeps the audience’s attention throughout), a professional scientific talk (no gimmicks, no role playing), etc.

Presentation layout

Remember our expectation is that this is a professional scientific presentation, however the structure and organization of the slides are ultimately at each group’s discretion. Aside from the technique and specified bullet points (see below) which will be posted for each team, each presentation:

  • Must have a white background (no templates, no sound: if you want to use animation you may do so, but please make sure that it does not interfere with your presentation)
  • A title on each slide (descriptive title that summarizes the main point of the slide. Slide titles like “results” are not descriptive enough)
  • Slide numbers on all slides (top right hand corner, please)
  • Large font size. Minimal writing/slide (use diagrams whenever possible)
  • Make sure you balance your text/figure/blank space ratios.
  • Diagrams, DIAGRAMS, DIAGRAMS (must be large, easy to see, labeled properly, referenced properly). The best diagrams are the ones you create yourself. If the diagram is very similar to another source please make sure you reference (adapted from: ref.). Diagrams should be in color.
  • No notes during presentation (you may not read your presentation from index cards or any other notes)
  • An acknowledgement slide (acknowledging your audience, peers and anyone else who helped you along the way)
  • References: you need to reference all sources. Please do not use the numerical reference style in presentations as it is not as informative and can break up the flow of your presentation. Typically, the reference is placed at the bottom left or right hand corner of each slide. You can decrease the font size. Use the first author’s name, followed by “et al.”, the name of the journal, year of publication, volume number and first page. For example: Dean et. al., Cell, 2006, 31, 95. Also, please provide a reference list slide at the end of the presentation.

Guidelines for non-presenters

You will be part of the audience. Please make sure that you pay attention to other presentations, you do not talk or use laptops/phones during other presentations, please ask questions or provide insightful comments during the Q/A period for other presentation. Above all, please be respectful and professional when other people are presenting!

Topic Assignments

Topic 1: Restriction Enzymes

As a team you will have a maximum of 10 minutes to give us a brief overview of your topic, with particular emphasis on some of the following components (assigned by team). The presentation needs to introduce the topic and flow seamlessly into your specific topic focus. Please be creative, engaging, but keep in mind that this is a professional scientific presentation:


      • Describe the history of restriction enzymes and how they were discovered
      • Discuss the importance of REs in molecular DNA cloning and biotechnology – use a specific example like the production of insulin or antibodies


      • Loenen, Wil AM, et al. “Highlights of the DNA cutters: a short history of the restriction enzymes.” Nucleic acids research 1 (2013): 3-19.
      • Roberts, Richard J. “How restriction enzymes became the workhorses of molecular biology.” Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences 17 (2005): 5905-5908.
      • Artificial restriction enzymes:

Topic 2 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)


      • Briefly outline the PCR technique
      • Describe how the PCR was discovered, and the importance of PCR in molecular DNA cloning and biotechnology
      • Provide an overview of quantitative PCR and its significance/impact – especially in COVID-19 testing


      • Garibyan, L., & Avashia, N. (2013). Research techniques made simple: polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The Journal of investigative dermatology, 133(3), e6.
      • Mullis, Kary B. “The unusual origin of the polymerase chain reaction.” Scientific American 4 (1990): 56-61.
      • Wilhelm, J., & Pingoud, A. (2003). Real‐time polymerase chain reaction. Chembiochem, 4(11), 1120-1128.

Topic 3: Bacterial Transformation



Topic 4: Sanger sequencing


      • Describe the overall concept of the Sanger sequencing technique
      • Discuss The impact of Sanger sequencing on molecular DNA cloning (here I would discuss the human genome project and its impact on propelling DNA sequencing techniques) (Team L01/2/3-D main focus)
      • Provide an overview of 2nd and 3rd generation sequencing techniques/ The impact of these sequencing techniques on personalized medicine (Team L01/2/3-J main focus)


      • Kchouk, Mehdi, Jean-François Gibrat, and Mourad Elloumi. “Generations of Sequencing Technologies: From First to Next Generation.” Biology and Medicine 3 (2017).
      • Heather, James M., and Benjamin Chain. “The sequence of sequencers: the history of sequencing DNA. “Genomics 1 (2016): 1-8.
      • França, L. T., Carrilho, E., & Kist, T. B. (2002). A review of DNA sequencing techniques. Quarterly reviews of biophysics, 35(2), 169-200.

Topic 5: DNA aptamers


      • Describe what DNA aptamers are – tie in the work conducted by Dr. Yingfu Li (
      • Discuss The process for generating DNA aptamers (SELEX). How can aptamers be used as diagnostics for diseases (brief overview only)?
      • Discuss how aptamers can be utilized as therapeutics: provide 1-2 examples.


      • Xing, H., Hwang, K., Li, J., Torabi, S. F., & Lu, Y. (2014). DNA aptamer technology for personalized medicine. Current opinion in chemical engineering, 4, 79-87.
      • Chen, C., Zhou, S., Cai, Y., & Tang, F. (2017). Nucleic acid aptamer application in diagnosis and therapy of colorectal cancer based on cell-SELEX technology. NPJ precision oncology, 1(1), 37.
      • Keefe, A. D., Pai, S., & Ellington, A. (2010). Aptamers as therapeutics. Nature reviews Drug discovery, 9(7),537.
      • Kaur H, Bruno JG, Kumar A, Sharma TK. Aptamers in the Therapeutics and Diagnostics Pipelines. Theranostics2018; 8(15):4016-4032. doi:10.7150/thno.25958
      • Nimjee, S. M., White, R. R., Becker, R. C., & Sullenger, B. A. (2017). Aptamers as therapeutics. Annual review of pharmacology and toxicology57, 61-79.

Topic 6: CRISPR/Cas9 technology


      • Describe how this system originated and how it works – history and mechanism
      • Describe its uses in gene editing and other uses
      • Highlight the absolute power and impact of this discovery
      • Consider the ethics of using this technology on humans:


      • Thurtle‐Schmidt, D. M., & Lo, T. W. (2018). Molecular biology at the cutting edge: A review on CRISPR/CAS9gene editing for undergraduates. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 46(2), 195-205.
      • H Wang, H., La Russa, M., & Qi, L. S. (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 in genome editing and beyond. Annual review of biochemistry, 85, 227-264.
      • A great resource from a company explaining this technology:


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BBS OER Lab Manual Copyright © 2021 by Felicia Vulcu/ Vivian Leong/ Caitlin Mullarkey (Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences McMaster University) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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