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by Greg Crowther


A short song about erythropoietin ("epo" for short) written for Biology 220 at the University of Washington. Erythropoietin is the hormone that stimulates the production of new erythrocytes (red blood cells, or RBCs).


Epo, epo ... epo!
(Epo, epo ... epo!)
Kidneys talk to ... marrow!
(Kidneys talk to ... marrow!)

The marrow ... has cells that form erythrocytes,
Which are designed just right
To carry gases.
But if ... production goes too rapidly,
Then blood viscosity
Is like molasses.

Epo, epo ... epo!
(Epo, epo ... epo!)
Canít be too high ... or too low!
(Canít be too high ... or too low!)
Oh no!

Other Files

sheet music (with melody play-back)

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) What does "kidneys talk to marrow" mean?

(2) By what other common name are erythrocytes known?

(3) What gas or gases do erythrocytes carry?

(4) Where in the erythrocytes are gases carried?

(5) Why does the song claim that epo "can't be too high ... or too low"?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)