Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences 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 I: Mechanisms

Fall (2nd half)
2 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 our understanding of disease processes and how investigating the mechanisms of disease increases understanding of normal physiology.

Human Biology and Disease II: Translational and Therapeutic Approaches

Spring (1st half)
2 credit hours

This course offers a broad survey of currently available techniques for gene manipulation in cells and animals. Current methodology will be reviewed to allow a later survey of applications focused on experimental models of genetic diseases. In addition, several sessions will be aimed at evaluating realistic prospects for gene therapy in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immunology, metabolic diseases, and neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

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.

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.

Genetics Expression

Fall (2nd half)
2 credit hours
Gene Expression expands on the fundamental concepts studied in the first-year Core Course emphasizing experimental strategies, reading of primary literature, critical evaluation of data and student discussion. Topics include mechanisms regulating gene transcription, including responses to inflammatory and hormonal stimuli, epigenetic and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, and microRNAs. Discussions of current research papers are used to delve into each of these topics.

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, Schwartz 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.

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.

Cancer Biology I – Hallmarks of Cancer and Cancer Stem Cells

Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
Tumorigenesis is a multi-step process driven by genetic, epigenetic and metabolic/environmental changes that occur over time. Although cancer is a heterogeneous disease, many human tumors exhibit similar acquired physiological features. This course will cover the underlying molecular and cellular biology mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis. The implications of these biological findings on cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment will also be covered.        The goal of this course is to provide the student with a solid background in general cancer biology. Upon completion of the class, students should have a basic understanding of the mechanisms by which tumors gain and maintain a growth advantage as well as a handle on potential therapeutic targets.