Integrative Biology Course Descriptions

Core Curriculum – Genes

Fall (1st half)
2 credit hours
Molecular genetics of model organisms; DNA replication, repair and recombination; transcription; RNA catalysis, processing and interference; translation; protein turnover; developmental biology; and genomics.

Core Curriculum – Proteins

Fall (1st half)
2 credit hours
The energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; and analysis by spectroscopic methods.

Core Curriculum – Cells

Fall (2nd half)
2 credit hours
Cell structure; membrane biology; intracellular membrane and protein trafficking; energy conversion; signal transduction and second messengers; cytoskeleton; cell cycle; and introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

Human Biology and Disease

Spring (Full semester)
3 credit hours
This course reviews the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the integrated functioning of a number of physiologic systems, including cardiovascular, neuromuscular, respiratory, renal, metabolic and endocrine. Overviews are provided, but selective topics considered to be most important are highlighted. The course also addresses mechanisms of disease, integrating normal physiology with the genetic and pathophysiologic basis of disease. Emphasis is placed on how physiological investigation increases understanding of disease processes and how investigating the mechanisms of disease increases understanding of normal physiology.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics I

Fall (Full semester)
1 credit hour
Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions: goals of education in RCR; professionalism; collaboration; teambuilding and professional behaviors; everyday practice of ethical science; mentorship; data management and reproducibility; animal research; genetics and human research.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics II

Spring (Full semester)
1 credit hour
Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions: codes of ethics and misconduct; building inter-professional teams; conflict of interest; sexual boundaries and professional behavior; applications of genetic testing; technology transfer and intellectual property; plagiarism, authorship, and citation; Peer review; image and data manipulation.

Electives

See degree plan (page 2) for specific elective requirements, if any

Advanced Genetics I – Model Systems

Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
This course focuses on the power of genetic analysis as an approach to identifying and studying important processes in development. The model organisms covered are C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse. The class combines lectures and discussion sessions, with heavy emphasis on critical reading of a small number of papers. Topics vary, but generally include areas of very current interest to developmental biologists.

Advanced Genetics II: Human Genetics

Spring (2nd half)
1.5 credit hours
The course introduces students to the conceptual basis of human genetics research. Some of the classes review basic principles of medical genetics, since many students do not have any prior exposure to this subject, but discussions emphasize research applications rather than clinical problems. Topics include discovering the molecular basis of Mendelian disorders and complex traits through molecular cytogenetics, genetic linkage, candidate gene and genomewide association methods. Discussion of research papers drawn from the current literature is used to illustrate each of these approaches.

Experimental Approaches to Complex Genetic Disease and Therapy

Fall (2nd half)
2 credit hours
This course offers a broad survey of currently available techniques for gene manipulation in cells and animals. Vectors and methods are reviewed first to allow a later survey of applications focused on experimental models of genetic diseases. In addition, several sessions are aimed at evaluating realistic prospects for gene therapy in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immunology and metabolic diseases.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Spring (Full semester)
3 credit hours
The goal of this course is to provide broader fundamental knowledge that builds on the basic concepts introduced in the Neuroscience Thread of the Core Course. This course will provide an introduction and overview of several core neuroscience areas, including membrane physiology, ion channels, cellular neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, sensory and motor systems, brain regulation of behavior and body physiology, and neural development. Principles of Neural Science, Edited by Kandel, Schwarz and Jessell is the primary reading material.

Molecular Basis of Metabolic Regulation

Spring (2nd half)
1.5 credit hours
The complexity of animals, their tissues, and even individual cells requires multilevel systems for regulation of metabolism. In this course, important cellular functions, such as the transport of molecules into cells, the use of fuels for energy generation and energy storage, and integration of metabolic pathways, are discussed. Discussion includes new information about the impact of gene expression and isozyme diversity on the control of metabolic flux, hormonal control of metabolism, and consideration of more acute control mechanisms operating at the level of allosteric and covalent modification of enzymes.

There is a strong emphasis on presentation of these concepts in the context of genetically programmed metabolic disorders, and the material covered in this course provides tools to explore the phenotypes of genetically modified animals and discern the basis of human metabolic disease.

Responses to Stress

Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
Biological responses to various types of stress serve to illustrate the adaptive functions of physiological systems. Molecular, cellular and/or organismal responses and adaptations to genetic and environmental stresses illustrate principles of feedback regulation in different systems. Responses to thermal, hypoxic and osmotic stress, as well as fasting, exercise, and infection, are discussed in the context of recent research.

Signal Transduction I

Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
This course offers an in-depth study of the interactions of neurotransmitter and polypeptide hormones with receptors and their subsequent regulation of cellular events. Topics emphasize basic physicochemical concepts of ligand interactions with biological systems and mechanisms of common signaling pathways, including classical second messengers, G protein dependent mechanisms and regulation via protein phosphorylation.

Quantitative approaches and current controversies are stressed where appropriate. Lectures are supported by discussion of classic and current research articles and presentations by students.

Topics in Developmental Biology

Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
The main objective of this course is to provide the student with an in depth knowledge of the mechanisms of development and how these processes are relevant to understanding human disease. The topics include axis formation, asymmetric cell division, regeneration and the connectivity between developmental biology and cancer. Throughout the course students will become familiar with the range of techniques that are employed in model organisms to investigate the complex signals that direct developmental processes. The course uses a combination of lectures and small group discussions of relevant papers to learn about and evaluate the existing literature on a given topic.