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Molecular Biology

Applicable for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Molecular Biology Website

Associate Professor (Chair) D. KILLIAN, Professor R. BERTRAND, Associate Professor P. LOSTROH, Assistant Professor O. HATTON, Assistant Professor S. HANSON, Assistant Professor J. GARCIA

Molecular biology offers an innovative outlook. It takes advantage of the Block Plan by offering designated "laboratory rich" courses in which students will be immersed in laboratory work and in writing in the discipline. The Department of Molecular Biology offers a range of courses that teach students how to understand organisms on a cellular and molecular level. Our majors learn critical thinking skills in molecular biology, such as how to perform and interpret experiments and how to develop and test hypotheses about model organisms, cells, and molecules. Students majoring in molecular biology will be prepared to enter graduate programs in basic research or healthcare, and to apply the critical thinking and communication skills learned in the major to new situations, irrespective of their career goals.

Major Requirements

 Molecular Biology Major (16 units)

  • 1 unit of organismal biology (BE105 Biology of Plants, BE106 Biology of Animals, BE107 Biology of Microbes, or HK204 Introduction to Human Anatomy)
    • AP Biology 5 or IB HL 5 satisfies this requirement
    • IB Biology of 6 satisfies this requirement OR satisfies the MB131 requirement
  • 1 unit of MB131 Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology or MB 111 FYE Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology
    • IB HL of 6 or 7 satisfies this requirement
    • BY131 or BY232 satisfies this requirement
  • 1 unit of MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics
    • Students who have completed BY131 cannot take this course
    • Requirement waived for students who have completed BY131 or BY232
  • 1 unit of MB231 Genetics
    • Pre-requisite:  MB201
    • Students who have completed BY131 but not BY231 place into this course
    • BY231 or BY232 satisfies this requirement
  • 1 unit of MB300-level lecture/discussion-based MB elective
    • These are intended for sophomores and juniors
    • Can be satisfied by BY300- or 400-level courses with BY231/232 Genetics as a pre-requisite
  • 1 unit of MB400-level lecture/discussion-based MB elective
    • These are intended for seniors and juniors
    • Can be satisfied by BY300- or 400-level courses with BY231/232 as a pre-requisite
  • 2 units of 300- or 400-level laboratory-rich electives
    • Can be satisfied through mentored research with an MB professor
    • Selected non-MB courses can meet one of these two units, but one of these units must be satisfied by an MB course offering. List of courses outside MB that can satisfy one (but not two) of these units: CH382 Biochemistry I; CH383 Biochemistry II; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology, HK430 Advanced Exercise Physiology; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY297 Neuroscience I; BE365 Plant Physiology; BE280 Population Genetics; BE465 Techniques in Molecular Ecology and Systematics
    • Can be satisfied by old BY300- or 400-level courses with BY231/232 Genetics as a pre-requisite, and which have a laboratory component: BY499, 475, 466, 453, 409, 391, 380, 359, 309.
  • 1 unit of elective in the biological sciences.  Can be satisfied by any MB course for majors or BY course for majors, or BE course for majors, or by selected courses in Biochemistry, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Anthropology, or Human Biology and Kinesiology (see list). MB 112 (FYE Microbiology & Biophysics) satisfies this requirement.
    • List: any MB course other than MB100, MB111, MB131, MB201, MB231; any BE course other than BE100; any BE course other than BY100; CH383 Biochemistry I; CH383 Biochemistry II; HK204 Introduction to Human Anatomy; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology; HK430 Advanced Exercise Physiology; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY297 Neuroscience I; AN230/MB230 Human Evolution; AN202 Human Biological Variation
    • Courses that satisfy this requirement cannot also count to fulfill a different requirement
  • 1 unit of Senior Capstone in Molecular Biology, MB497, which will be offered twice each year, once in the fall and once in the spring
  • A maximum of 2 units of mentored research such as MB209, MB399, MB498, MB499, BY309, BY409, BY499, CH401, and CH403 can be counted toward the molecular biology major. All of these mentored research blocks require consent of instructor and agreement from the supervising professor at least on block in advance
  • 4 units of Chemistry (CH107 General Chemistry I, CH108 General Chemistry II, CH250 Structures of Organic Molecules, and CH251 Reactions of Organic Molecules)
  • 2 units from selected courses in Mathematics, Computer Science, or Physics (MA125 Pre-Calculus and Calculus (counts as two units toward the requirement);  MA126 Calculus 1, MA127 Calculus I and II Accelerated, MA129 Calculus II, MA117 Probability & Statistics, MA217 Probability and Statistical Modeling, CP115 Computational Thinking, CP122 Computer Science I, CP222 Computer Science II, or PC241 Physics for the Physical Sciences I, or PC242 Physics for the Physical Sciences II). May be satisfied by AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar
  • Must attend Molecular Biology Day as a senior
  • Must participate in departmental assessment activities such as the senior exit survey and examination
  • Must complete the senior seminar requirement

Minor Requirements

Molecular Biology minor (6 units)

  • 1 unit of MB131 Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology or MB111 FYE Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • 1 unit of MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics
  • 1 unit of MB231 Genetics
  • 3 units that have MB231 as a prerequisite
    • List of courses outside MB that can satisfy only one (but not two or three) of these units: CH382 Biochemistry I; CH383 Biochemistry II; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology; HK430 Advanced Exercise Physiology; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY297 Neuroscience 1; BE 365 Plant Physiology; BE280 Population Genetics; BE465 Techniques in Molecular Ecology and Systematics.

Courses

Molecular Biology

MB100 Studies in Molecular Biology

Presents students not majoring in molecular biology with inquiries into contemporary issues and phenomena in the biological sciences. Activities include lectures, readings, discussions, and laboratory or field experiences. May not be counted toward a molecular biology major. (May meet the laboratory/field requirement for critical perspectives.) (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

MB101 The Science and Ethics of Genetics

A non-majors course covering the basic principles of classical and molecular genetics, and discussions concerning the impact of genetics on biological research, health care, ancestry, the legal system, and society. The course also covers the influence of western philosophers on current perceptions and ethical issues related to genetic technology. Activities include lectures, readings, discussions, and several films. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

MB103 Epidemic & Infectious Disease

Outbreaks of infectious disease have had profound impacts on human societies, and continue to impact communities in the present day. The course includes readings that situate selected epidemics in their social contexts, and explores the biological aspects of each infection. Course topics include plague, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, influenza, HIV/AIDS, and current anti-vaccination movements. (Not offered 2017-18).

.5 unit

MB109 First Year Experience Microbiology and Cellular Biophysics

Introduction to cellular life, molecular biology, and biophysics. Activities include lectures, readings, discussions, and laboratory work Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

Prerequisite: 1) 2 years high school biology, 2) 1 year high school chemistry, 3) 1 year high school physics, and 4) 1 year high school calculus.

2 units — Lang, Lostroh

MB111 First Year Experience Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology

Structures and functions of biomacromolecules, organelles, and cells, and the flow of energy and information within and among them. Provides an introduction to molecular and cellular biology, with emphasis on how questions are addressed experimentally. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: AP/IB equivalent of Chemistry 107.

2 units

MB112 Investigations in Molecular Biology

Introduces laboratory techniques and data analysis in molecular biology. Fundamentals of cell biology and microbiology. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: No credit if taken after Biology 131, Biology 232, Molecular Biology 109, Molecular Biology 111, or Molecular Biology 131.

1 unit

MB130 Viruses: The Biology and Mathematical Modeling of Epidemics

Basic overview of viral infections, symptoms, mutations, and viral life cycles, and how politics, history, and culture can affect the spread of viral epidemics. Second block will provide a meaningful research experience using techniques from differential calculus to model viral epidemics and provide a deeper understanding of how calculus-based ideas fit into a biological context. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: High School Calculus, Mathematics 125, Mathematics 126, or consent of instructor.

2 units

MB131 Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology

Structures and functions of biomacromolecules, organelles, and cells and the flow of energy and information within and among them. Provides an introduction to molecular and cellular biology, with emphasis on how to address questions experimentally. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Prerequisite: Chemistry 107, or AP/IB equivalent, or consent of instructor. No credit after Biology 131 or Biology 232.

1 unit — Garcia, Hanson, Hatton

MB199 Research Ethics in the Sciences

Scientists today are faced with difficult choices due to reduced funding for research and higher expectations of research productivity. This pressure can lead to fraudulent behavior. Training in the responsible conduct of research is essential for students and mentors performing scientific research. The course will introduce students to the basic principles of western philosophy and cover a variety of ethical topics using cases studies. Topics will include: data acquisition, mentor/trainee responsibilities, publication practices and authorship, human subjects, animal research, and conflict of interest. (Not offered 2017-18).

.5 unit

MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics

Laboratory techniques common in contemporary research in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. Introduction to research ethics.

Prerequisite: Molecular Biology 131 or Molecular Biology 111; or consent of instructor. No credit after Biology 131 or Biology 232.

1 unit — Garcia, Hanson, Hatton, Roop

MB209 Introduction to Mentored Research in Molecular Biology

Mentored research projects based on laboratory investigation.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor and Molecular Biology 201 and arranged at least one block ahead of time.

1 unit — Bertrand, Garcia, Hanson, Hatton

MB210 Introductory Special Topics in Molecular Biology

Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Biology 131 or Biology 111 or Molecular Biology 131.

1 unit

MB230 Human Evolution

Examines the fossil and genetic evidence for human evolution. Using the fossil record of early primate evolution as a foundation, the emergence of early hominins and their descendants is investigated. Human adaptations and hypotheses regarding the selective pressures leading to these adaptations are explored. Through lectures, laboratories, discussions, and student presentations, students learn some of the basic principles of molecular genetics and discuss the use of genetics in evolutionary research. Current debates such as the position of Neanderthals, and Denisovans in the human lineage are emphasized. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Biology 131, Molecular Biology 111, or Molecular Biology 131, or Chemistry 108 with consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB231 Genetics

Nature, transmission and expression of hereditary information; lecture and laboratory will include principles of molecular and transmission genetics with an emphasis on contemporary molecular genetic research.

Prerequisite: 1) Biology 131 or Molecular Biology 201, and 2) Chemistry 108, or consent of instructor. No credit after Biology 231 or Biology 232.

1 unit — Killian

MB244 Scanning Electron Microscopy

Basic principles of electron optical systems, image formation, specimen preparation, and photography. Individual instruction in the care, use and operation of the instrument as a research tool is emphasized. in the natural sciences. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing & prior course work in natural science.

1 unit

MB256 Mathematical Models in Molecular Biology

An introduction to selected quantitative models drawn from ecology, genetics, and physiology. For each model the course includes an investigation of the mathematical methods used, an evaluation of the model, and some elementary simulation techniques. (Offered alternate years). Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Mathematics 126 and 1 college molecular biology course.

1 unit

MB301 Special Topics in Molecular Biology

Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Lecture/discussion.

Prerequisite: Biology 231 or Biology 232 or Molecular Biology 231.

1 unit — Garcia, Hanson, Lostroh

MB302 Independent Study in Molecular Biology

Primary literature-intensive investigation of a selected topic in molecular biology.

Prerequisite: Biology 231 or Biology 232 or Molecular Biology 231; and 2) consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB305 Advanced Genetic Analysis

Lecture, readings, and discussion of emerging technologies in genetics and biomedical research. Students will critique original scientific proposals that address topics in biomedical-genetic research. Students will read primary literature, prepare a 45-minute lecture on their topic, propose next steps in the research from their chosen topic, and write a research proposal based on next steps and expected results. Students will also discuss specific case studies involving ethical issues in genetic research. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: 1) Molecular Biology 231, Molecular Biology 232, or Molecular Biology 231 and 2) Chemistry 108.

1 unit

MB310 Advanced Cell Biology

Study of select processes that occur in eukaryotic cells such as cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane transport, protein targeting, cell-cell communication, and regulation of cell division and death. Heavy emphasis on how questions in cell biology are addressed experimentally. Includes reading and critique of primary literature. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: 1) Biology 231, Biology 232, or Molecular Biology 231 and 2) Chemistry 250.

1 unit

MB320 Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

Heredity, gene expression, physiology, and experimental manipulation of microbial genomes. Through lecture and primary literature, the course explores microbial life as investigated using experimental genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and biochemistry, with an emphasis on bacteria and the fundamental processes of cellular life such as metabolism, regulation of gene expression, synthesis and assembly of supramolecular structures, and signal transduction. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: 1)BY 231 or Biology 232 or Molecular Biology 231 and 2) Chemistry 251 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB341 Special Topics in Molecular Biology

Special topics in Biology not offered on a regular basis. (Not offered 2017-18).

.5 to 1 unit

MB345 Transmission Electron Microscopy

Basic principles of electron optical systems, image formation, specimen preparation, ultramicrotomy, and photography. Individual instruction in the care, use, and operation of the instrument as a research tool is emphasized. (Not offered 2017-18).

1 unit

MB350 Special Topics in Laboratory Research in Molecular Biology

Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Laboratory intensive

Prerequisite: 1) Biology 231 or Biology 232 or Molecular Biology 231 and 2) Chemistry 251.

1 unit — Garcia, Hanson, Hatton

MB355 Laboratory Advanced Genetics

Laboratory-intensive course that covers the classical transmission genetics and modern molecular genetics techniques. Course emphasizes experimental design, techniques, data gathering, data analysis, and technical science writing. Topics may include genetic mapping, phenotypic analysis, sequencing, analysis of gene expression, RNA interference, and transgene construction. Laboratory intensive. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Biology 231, Biology 232, or Molecular Biology 231.

1 unit

MB360 Laboratory in Molecular Microbiology

A laboratory-intensive course with supplementary discussions and lectures. Topics include experimental design and analysis, genetic manipulation of bacterial plasmids and chromosomes, bioinformatical analysis of bacterial genomes, and physiological analysis of mutants. Laboratory intensive. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: 1.) Biology 231, Biology 232, or Molecular Biology 231 and 2.) Chemistry 251.

1 unit

MB399 Mentored Research in Molecular Biology

Mentored research projects based on laboratory investigation, using techniques or concepts introduced in genetics. Laboratory intensive

Prerequisite: consent of instructor and Biology 231, Biology 232 or Molecular Biology 231 and arranged at least one block ahead of time.

1 unit — Bertrand, Garcia, Hanson, Hatton

MB401 Advanced Special Topics in Molecular Biology

Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Lecture/Discussion.

Prerequisite: Any 300-level course in Molecular Biology or consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB405 Stem Cell Biology

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that are capable of self-renewal and have the potential to develop into specialized cells types. Stem cells are important for development, reproduction, growth, healing, and homeostasis. Course covers the microenvironments that are required to maintain stem cells, asymmetric cell division, the genes required for stem cell fate, the use of stem cells for medical applications, and ethical considerations. Course includes lectures, discussion of primary research articles, student presentations, and a writing assignment. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: any 300-level course in Molecular Biology or consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB410 Molecular and Cellular Virology

The molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry of viruses, including attachment to, entry into, and synthesis and assembly inside of host cells. Through lecture, discussion, and laboratory, the course emphasizes the experimental basis of biologists’ understanding of the molecular details of DNA replication, transcription, translation, gene regulation, protein localization, cell division, and signal transduction, and how viruses manipulate, subvert, and exploit these cellular processes. Lecture/discussion.

Prerequisite: 1) Any 300-level course in Molecular Biology and 2) Chemistry 251 or consent of instructor; Biology 380 or Molecular Biology 310 and Chemistry 382 strongly recommended.

1 unit — Lostroh

MB415 Developmental Neurobiology

Contemporary approaches to the study of nervous system development with emphasis on molecular and genetic techniques. Topics include neural induction, neural stem cells, axon guidance, synapse formation, neuronal life and death, and other topics. Readings will be primary research articles with reviews and textbook chapters as background. Lecture/Discussion.

Prerequisite: Any MB course at the 300-level OR Molecular Biology 231 Genetics AND Psychology 298 Neuroscience II.

1 unit — Killian

MB450 Advanced Special Topics in Laboratory Research in Molecular Biology

Laboratory-intensive special topics not offered on a regular basis. Laboratory intensive. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Any 300-level course in Molecular Biology or consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB455 Laboratory in Advanced Cell Biology

Application of experimental techniques such as microscopy, transgenics, fluorescence microscopy, immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, and immunoblotting to study select processes that occur in eukaryotic cells such as cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane transport, protein targeting, chemotaxis, and regulation of cell division and death. Includes laboratories, discussion of primary literature, and lectures. Laboratory intensive. (Not offered 2017-18).

Prerequisite: Molecular Biology 310 or Chemistry 382 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

MB497 Senior Capstone in Molecular Biology

Seminar-style course exploring not only the science related to a topic in molecular biology but also related social issues. Topic will be selected by faculty on an annual basis and announced to majors before pre-registration. Examples of possible topics include genetic screening and testing, stem cells and medical therapeutics, international pandemics, and cancer.

Prerequisite: Senior Standing and a declared major in Biology-MCB track, or Molecular Biology.

1 unit — Hatton, Lostroh

MB498 Advanced Mentored Research in Molecular Biology

Advanced mentored research projects based on laboratory investigation, using techniques or concepts introduced in genetics. Laboratory intensive.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor and any 300-level course in Molecular Biology; must be arranged at least one block ahead of time.

1 unit — Bertrand, Garcia, Hanson, Hatton

MB499 Senior Thesis in Molecular Biology

Writing of the senior thesis based on data from an undergraduate research project. The thesis topic is to be chosen by the student following consultation with a member of the Molecular Biology Department faculty who agrees to serve as the project and thesis advisor.

Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor must be arranged 1 semester in advance.

1 unit — Bertrand, Garcia, Hanson, Hatton