Case study Part I – The Intruder The intruder entered the kitchen


Case study Part I – The Intruder

The intruder entered the kitchen of the upscale restaurant at 2:43am. All was quiet. All was dark.

The intruder moved quickly, but he was not in a rush. He knew that the baker would not arrive until 4:00am, as she did most mornings. Most of the meal for the private lunch to be catered later that day had already been prepped.

He peered over the stainless steel countertops and into bowls of chopped vegetables, rising dough, and homemade marinades until he found what he was looking for—the dessert prep. Pecan pie was the dessert of choice for the lunch party. He smiled. He could not have chosen a better dessert to carry out his plan!

The intruder reached into his pocket with a gloved hand and produced a small bag with what appeared to be chopped pecans. These were not pecans, however. The bag contained the chopped seeds of a Taxus baccata tree.

The intruder swiftly dumped the contents of the bag into the bowl of chopped pecans. He stirred the mixture with his hand. Satisfied that no one would notice his addition of the extra ingredient, the intruder made his way out of the kitchen and into the night.

Case Study Part II – The Lunch

At lunch that Thursday afternoon, Governor Adrienne Baker sat with her aide Benji, Lieutenant Governor Graham Fitzpatrick, and physician Dr. Kathy Beckham, a trusted advisor and best friend. Over the course of the lunch, the diners munched on a pre-determined menu of marinated artichoke salad and rosemary encrusted lamp chops with roasted potatoes and carrots, and discussed the major issue of the governor’s term. The closing of the largest state-supported hospital had been a lightning rod for controversy, and Dr. Beckham was nervous for her friend. This was a highly contentious issue, and people with a lot of power and money had a lot to lose if the governor announced the closing of the hospital, as she was planning to do the following Tuesday during a press conference. While Dr. Beckham hated to see the hospital close, she was not worried about being able to find a new job. Dr. Beckham locked eyes with her friend and gave the governor a reassuring smile.

When the dessert finally came out, Governor Baker was thrilled. Pecan pie was her absolute favorite, and after the stress of discussing the hospital issue, she wanted some comfort food. The governor, the lieutenant governor, and Benji the aide had no trouble polishing off their entire slices of pie. Dr. Beckham, who did not like pecans and who was feeling rather full, had one small bite of the pie in order to be polite, but placed her fork down across her plate, signaling the end of the meal.

Case Study Part 3 The Hospital
Later that afternoon, from the local hospital, Dr. Kathy Beckham called her friend, Governor Adrienne Baker, to thank her again for lunch and to check in, as she often did. Adrienne did not answer her phone, which was not unusual. The governor was a busy woman after all and would at least send a text within an hour or so if she missed Kathy’s call.

While making her rounds, Dr. Beckham began to feel ill. She was nauseous and a little dizzy. Her heart was beating quickly. She checked her cell phone. Adrienne still had not returned her call, nor sent a text. Kathy began to feel uneasy. It wasn’t like Adrienne to not even shoot her a quick text to let her know how her day was going.

Dr. Beckham moved into the next patient’s room. The TV was on in the background—a soap opera. The patient was sleeping and as the doctor leaned forward to wake him, she glanced up at the television. Her mouth dropped open as the news flashed across the screen.

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Adrienne Baker found dead in her home. Lieutenant Governor Graham Fitzpatrick and aide Benji Williams rushed to local hospital unconscious and in critical condition. Police suspect foul play.

Dr. Beckham stared at the screen in shock and disbelief. She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was a police officer. “Ma’am,” the police officer said sternly, “I’d like you to come with me.”


1. Answer the following question, looking up answers and providing links to your sources, as needed.
a. Why did Dr. Beckham have only mild symptoms as compared to the others?

2. Answer the following questions, looking up answers and providing links to your sources, as needed.
a. Most of the governor’s lunch party just ate pecan pie filled with taxines, a potent mixture of poisons, one of which is actually a powerful mitotic inhibitor. What is a mitotic inhibitor?
b. Which specific cytoskeletal element is most susceptible to mitotic inhibitors?
c. What is the function of mitosis in animals?

This source might be useful:( (I do not usually refer to Wikipedia, but the first paragraph explains it very well)

3. Answer the following questions, looking up answers and providing links to your sources, as needed.
a. What type of plan could be carried out by adding the seeds of Taxus baccata to a pecan pie?
b. What are taxines?

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