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Course Descriptions

Helpful Documents: Degree Plan | Professional Outcomes

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; genomics.

Core Curriculum – Proteins
Fall (1st half)
2 credit hours
Energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; 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; introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

Cellular Signaling: Molecular Mechanism to Disease
Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
General principles of cellular regulation are examined through detailed study of selected molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways. Focus includes mechanisms of receptor function, G proteins as molecular switches and organizers, differential mechanisms and roles of protein kinases, mechanical signaling mechanisms, other protein modifications and turnover in regulation, action of nuclear hormone receptors and analysis of signaling networks. Quantitative approaches, current controversies, and the relationship of mechanisms to disease are stressed where appropriate. Limited lectures are supported by discussion of classic and current research articles, research problems, and presentations by students.

Current Topics in Cell Biology
Spring (2nd half)
1.5 credit hours
Selected areas of Cell Biology are studied in modules through background survey and focused emphasis on current controversies via extended discussion of the literature and research questions. Current topics include organellar communication, cell migration, protein and vesicular trafficking, and image analysis and interpretation. Development of expertise in selected areas will emphasize improvement in skills such as critical assessment of the literature, problem-solving, quantitative analysis, and use of cutting-edge technology, which will be broadly applicable to all areas of biological research.

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 interprofessional 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.


Please review the degree plan for specific elective requirements, if any.

Mechanisms of Drug Action
Spring full semester
3.0 credit hours
The course is organized around weekly one-hour lectures and two-hour discussions. The first part of the course examines the general principles of pharmacology. Topics include the entry, distribution, and elimination of drugs; the time course of the drug action; the molecular basis of pharmacological selectivity and efficacy; the adaptation, tolerance, and addiction to drugs; and pharmacogenetics. These sessions are followed by discussions of the molecular bases of antibiotic chemotherapy and autonomic pharmacology. The final weeks of the course explores a range of topics, using examples from contemporary literature.

Topics include peptides and proteins as drugs, rational drug design, the use of RNA and DNA as drugs, gene therapy, prodrugs, immunotoxins, anticancer chemotherapy, and strategies of selective drug delivery.

Optical Microscopy for Biomedical Research
Spring – variable
1.5 credit hours
During the first part of these 90-min lectures, the course addresses the principles and applications of modern optical microscopy, including among others: properties of light, anatomy of light microscopes, digital imaging, quantitative fluorescence microscopy, image analysis/quantification and cutting-edge technologies. The second part revolves around the fundamentals and applications of electron microscopy in biological research, including, conventional EM techniques, high-pressure freezing/freeze substitution, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, and correlative techniques.

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