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Molecular Biology

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Molecular Biology Website

Associate Professor (Chair) D. KILLIAN, Associate Professor P. LOSTROH; Associate Professor O. HATTON, Assistant Professor S. HANSON, Assistant Professor J. GARCIA, Assistant Professor M. COURSE

Molecular biology offers an innovative outlook by taking advantage of the Block Plan and offering courses in which students will be immersed in laboratory work, critical thinking and 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 by interpreting experiments, developing and testing hypotheses, and working with 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)

           No single one-block course can satisfy more than one requirement

  • 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 4 or 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
    • IB HL of 6 or 7 satisfies this requirement

  • 1 unit of MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics

  • 1 unit of MB231 Genetics

  • 1 unit of MB300-level lecture/discussion-based MB elective
    • These are intended for sophomores and juniors

  • 1 unit of MB400-level lecture/discussion-based MB elective
    • These are intended for juniors and seniors

  • 2 units of 300- or 400-level laboratory-rich electives
    • One or both units Can can be satisfied through mentored research with an MB professor (MB399, MB498, MB499, or MB397). Note: MB397 Mentored Research in Molecular Biology Alternative Format is a 0.5 unit course in an extended format over 4 blocks or half block; MB397 may be taken twice to count as 1 unit, or 4 times to count as 2 units. 
    • 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; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK306 Advanced Joint Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology; HK354 Advanced Head and Neck Anatomy; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY296 Functional Neuroscience; PY297 Neuroscience 1; PY299 Neuroscience (counts as 1 unit); BE365 Plant Physiology; BE280 Population Genetics; BE465 Techniques in Molecular Ecology and Systematics. 
  • 1 unit of elective in the biological sciences.
    • Can be satisfied by any MB course for majors, or BE course for majors, or by selected courses in Biochemistry, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Anthropology, or Human Biology and Kinesiology (see list below). 
    • List: any MB course other than MB100, MB111, MB131, MB201, MB231; any BE course other than BE100; CH382 Biochemistry I; CH383 Biochemistry II; HK204 Introduction to Human Anatomy; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK306 Advanced Joint Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology;  HK354 Advanced Head and Neck Anatomy; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY296 Functional Neuroscience; PY297 Neuroscience I; PY299 Neuroscience (counts as 1 unit); AN230/MB230 Human Evolution; AN202 Human Biological Variation; MA130 Viruses: The Biology and Mathematical Modeling of Epidemics.
  • 1 unit of Senior Capstone in Molecular Biology, MB497, which will be offered twice each year, once in the fall (Block 4) and once in the spring (Block 6).  A third block of MB497 may be offered some years depending on the number of senior MB majors.

  • A maximum of 2 units of mentored research such as MB209, MB397, MB399, MB498, MB499, 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 one 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 I; 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; PC141 Physics for the Life Sciences I; PC241 Physics for the Physical Sciences I). 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
  • 1 unit of MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics
  • 1 unit of MB231 Genetics
  • 2 units of 300- or 400-level MB courses

  • 1 unit that is either (a) a 300- or 400-level MB course, or (b) from the list below:
    • List of courses outside MB that can satisfy this unit: CH382 Biochemistry I; HK304 Advanced Human Anatomy; HK306 Advanced Joint Anatomy; HK321 Human Physiology; HK354 Advanced Head and Neck Anatomy; MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology; PY296 Functional Neuroscience; PY297 Neuroscience 1; PY299 Neuroscience (counts as 1 unit); BE365 Plant Physiology; BE280 Population Genetics; BE465 Techniques in Molecular Ecology and Systematics. 

Courses

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 2021-22).

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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. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

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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 2021-22).

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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. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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Introduces laboratory techniques and data analysis in molecular biology. Fundamentals of cell biology and microbiology. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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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.

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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 2021-22).

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Laboratory techniques common in contemporary research in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. Introduction to research ethics. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement.

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Mentored research projects based on laboratory investigation.

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Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Lecture/Discussion. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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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.

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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 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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

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

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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 2021-22).

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Proper gene expression is critical for essentially all biological processes as its control provides the ability for organisms to develop and adapt to their environments. In this class we will explore transcriptional, post-transcriptional and translational processes that control how genes within a specific cell are eventually expressed. Through lecture, discussion, primary literature, and other in-class activities the course will explore molecular and cellular mechanisms of how genes are regulated and gain an in-depth experimental toolset to study gene expression. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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This course provides an introduction to how genome scale data are collected, analysed, and interpreted. A variety of applications for the use of genomic data are presented, and students have the opportunity to carry out a research project using bioinformatics and genomics methods for data analysis. (Not offered 2021-22).

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Bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes with emphasis on infectious agents that cause significant human disease. Laboratory work on cultivation and identification of microbes. Satisfies most pre-health requirements for a microbiology course with laboratory. Satisfies the 300-level lecture/discussion requirement for the Molecular Biology major.

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Genetic, molecular, cellular, and developmental aspects of the immune system central to generation and regulation of immune responses. Through lecture, primary literature discussion, and case studies, this course explores individual components and complex interactions governing the mammalian immune system. Course emphasizes the experimental foundations and approaches of modern immunology.

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Special topics in Biology not offered on a regular basis. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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Special topics not offered on a regular basis. Laboratory intensive (Not offered 2021-22).

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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.

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This laboratory-intensive, inquiry-based course focuses on techniques in genetics, with an emphasis on using yeast as a eukaryotic model organism. Course emphasizes experimental design, techniques, data gathering, data analysis, and technical skills to effectively communicate science through writing and presentation. Techniques may include: culturing microorganisms, DNA/RNA isolation, quantitative PCR (qPCR), CRISPR, transgene construction, microscopy, and/or assays to observe protein-protein/DNA- protein/RNA-protein interactions. Topics may include: phenotypic analysis, analysis of gene expression, molecular cloning, and genetic screens. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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This laboratory-intensive course provides a hands-on introduction to asking biological questions at the whole-genome level. Students gain experience preparing samples for high-throughput sequencing and analyzing the data.

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Laboratory-intensive, inquiry-based course that focuses on techniques in cell biology, with an emphasis on understanding the cell biology. Modern molecular biology techniques may also be employed. Course emphasizes experimental design, techniques, data gathering, data analysis, and technical science writing. Techniques may include: mammalian cell culture, flow cytometry, Western blotting, quantitative PCR (qPCR), microscopy, molecular cloning, RNA interference, proliferation assays, and cell-cycle analysis. Topics may include: cellular signaling, cellular metabolism, phenotypic analysis, analysis of gene expression. (Not offered 2021-22).

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Mentored research projects based on laboratory investigation, using techniques or concepts introduced ingenetics. Laboratory intensive. Taught as an extended format course over four blocks, or over half block.

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

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

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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 2021-22).

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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.

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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. (Not offered 2021-22).

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Laboratory-intensive special topics not offered on a regular basis. Laboratory intensive. (Not offered 2021-22).

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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 2021-22).

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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.

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

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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.

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