JoVE in Action: Teaching a Biomedical Sciences Research Class Remotely

Supriya Kamath

JoVE in Action is a series of blog posts highlighting how STEM educators around the world have used JoVE to support their remote teaching efforts. We hope these stories will be useful for instructors looking for effective ways to deliver their science and lab courses online or in hybrid formats. 


Dr. Marsha Pierce is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at Midwestern University. In the spring semester of this year, six medical and master’s students were working on research projects in her laboratory, having signed up for a biomedical sciences research elective. However, when the wet lab closed down mid-semester due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Pierce had to find a way to provide them with the best possible remote laboratory experience instead.  

Dr. Marsha Pierce
Dr. Marsha Pierce

To achieve this, Dr. Pierce decided to curate an individualized curriculum for each student, consisting of published literature that was relevant to their projects. She also decided to supplement these with JoVE videos demonstrating techniques that the students had been learning in the lab prior to its closure, and that were described in the selected readings. “I knew [JoVE videos] would help reinforce the learning of their initial laboratory experiences as well as enhance their understanding of the techniques and relevant assigned literature,” she said. 

With the help of the JoVE Customer Success team, Dr. Pierce was able to find JoVE videos to support each of the different research projects that her students were working on. These included JoVE videos demonstrating a protocol for culturing low-density primary hippocampal neurons, presenting an assay for characterizing G Protein-coupled receptors, introducing core topics like cell-surface signaling, and many others. 

Having chosen readings and JoVE videos for each student, Dr. Pierce then met with them individually via Zoom every week — they would discuss the literature assigned for that week, and then review a relevant JoVE video to reinforce what had been learned. 

Dr. Pierce also used JoVE videos to support her weekly lab meetings with all her students. Ordinarily, students would have presented their data and discussed planned experiments at these sessions. Once the course and the lab meetings moved to a remote format, Dr. Pierce assigned and presented review articles that were relevant to all the projects, and they watched JoVE videos that illustrated topics covered by the review articles. 

Ultimately, when Dr. Pierce’s lab re-opened, students were ready and well-prepared to continue work on their research projects. “My students appreciated the JoVE videos because when they came back into the laboratory this summer, having watched the JoVE videos made it easier for them to learn the hippocampal dissection paper writing techniques,” she said. “I hope to continue to use JoVE videos in all my laboratory training and meetings.”