Course Listing

MCB Course Listing

For the most up-to-date and detailed information regarding course offerings, visit the UA Class Schedule.
For MCB major requirements, click here.
For Introductory Biology information, click here.
* Denotes core course for MCB majors.

*MCB 181R Introductory Biology I (3 units)
This is a core course required for the MCB major. Introduction to biology covers fundamental principles in molecular and cellular biology and basic genetics. Emphasis is placed on biological function at the molecular level, with a focus on the structure and regulation of genes, the structure and synthesis of proteins, how these molecules are integrated into cells, and how these cells are integrated into multicellular systems. Examples stem from current research in bacteria, plants, and animals (including humans) in the areas of cell biology, genetics, molecular medicine and immunology.
Typically offered: Fall, Spring, and Summer

*MCB 181L Introductory Biology Laboratory I (1 unit)
This is a core course required for the MCB major. Laboratory exercises presenting techniques and fundamental principles of modern biology. Designed to complement the information concurrently presented in MCB 181R.
Typically offered: Fall and Spring
*MCB 301 Molecular Basis of Life (4 units)
This is the first course in a three part upper division series required for MCB majors. The course encompasses foundational material for the study of Molecular and Cellular Biology. The focus will be on the fundamental concepts governing the interaction of biological macromolecules required for the central dogma of molecular biology: DNA > RNA > protein. Topics to be covered: DNA structure, replication, RNA transcription, structure, modification, processing and turnover, protein translation and modification. Protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions required for these processes will be explored in-depth. In addition to lectures, small group in-class activities will: 1) introduce concepts that are the basis of interaction in large molecular assemblies, 2) introduce molecular and cell biology concepts that put macromolecular assemblies in a biological context.
Typically offered: Spring
Instructor: Carol Dieckmann

*MCB 304 Molecular Genetics (4 units)
This is the second course in a three part upper division series required for MCB majors. The course will cover the foundations of genetics and genomics: 1) how cells and organisms transmit information to the next generation, 2) how the phenotypes of cells and organisms are connected to the information encoded within a DNA template, and 3) how DNA sequencing and recombinant DNA technology can be used to sequence and analyze the entire set of DNA in cells.  In the first half of the course, the topics will include the mechanisms of genetic transmission, basis of traits, genome replication, and gene expression.  The focus of the second half of the course will be to synthesize our understanding of these fundamental processes and to explore their application to the analysis of a wide range of biological phenomena. Prerequisite: 301.
Typically offered: Fall
Instructors: Andrew Paek, Timothy Bolger

*MCB 305 Cell and Developmental Biology (4 units)
This is the third course in a three part upper division series required for MCB majors. This course focuses on the structure and function of eukaryotic cells through the lens of cell and developmental biology. We cover topics in membrane structure, protein transport, regulation of cell division and properties of the cytoskeleton and how  abnormalities in these cellular processes lead to cancer. We consider how the individual properties of cells collectively form patterns during development and how stem cells function in tissue repair and regeneration. The key ideas in cell and developmental biology are presented as working models; students use research data to confirm, refine or expand these models. Students actively engage in reasoning with models by solving research-related problems both in and out of class. Examples are based on health and environmental issues that affect our daily lives. We emphasis problem solving, critical thinking, collaborative learning and active participation in class. Through these activities, students gain scientific thinking skills and abilities to design and interpret experiments. Prerequisites:  301, 304.
Typically offered: Spring
Instructors: Lisa Nagy, Molly Bolger
MCB 315 Key Concepts in Quantitative Biology (4 units)
This one-semester introductory course covers key principles of molecular and cellular biology, with an emphasis on contemporary quantitative approaches such as systems biology and genomic analysis. Topics to be covered include cellular growth control and cancer, the role of viruses in human disease, developmental biology, and stem cell research. It is intended both for students in the life sciences interested in quantitative methods and for students outside the life sciences with an intellectual curiosity about biological systems. The course will provide an integrated conceptual foundation in biology and develop critical thinking skills and quantitative problem-solving abilities. Students will be expected to work on group projects, on-line assignments, presentations, problem sets, and essay exams, and to participate in class discussions and group problem solving. Discussions will explore readings in current scientific literature.
Typically offered: Fall of even years
Instructor: Ryan Gutenkunst
MCB 325 The Biology of Cancer (3 units)
This course is designed to help intermediate students understand the biology of cancer.  The course will cover the disease of cancer from the aspects of molecular and cellular biology, as well as experimental models of cancer and drug development.  Clinical aspects will be highlighted, including diagnosis, pathology and treatments, as well as ethics. This is the first of a two-course series concerning the field of cancer biology. Honors section available.
Typically offered: Fall
Instructor: Justina McEvoy
MCB 396 Special Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology (1 unit)
Special topics seminar course for Juniors and Seniors. Course includes small group discussion, research, and presentations on a variety of molecular and cellular biology related special topics of interest.  Current research, relevant issues, historical perspectives and guest speakers may be included. Sophomores may enroll with consent of the department.
Typically offered: Fall and Spring
Instructor: Molly Bolger
MCB 396I Career Exploration and Professional Development (2 units)
This course was developed to encourage students to study science, to prepare to enter the scientific workforce, and to take advantage of mentoring opportunities that will assist them to advance to positions of scientific leadership.  The premise is that through developing a broad understanding of issues related to science and through professional development, both women and men will gain access to information and to the formal and informal networks needed to progress to successful careers in science. Part of the course is devoted to interactions with those in science related fields who can share experiences and provide guidance.
Typically offered: Fall
Instructor: Jennifer Cubeta
MCB 397C STEM Outreach and Recruitment (1 unit)
The purpose of the STEM Recruitment & Outreach (SORT) Team is to engage undergraduate students majoring in the life sciences in educational outreach by generating an interest in and promoting an understanding of the biological science topics among elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, fellow undergraduates, and the general public. In the area of recruitment (primarily the role of MCB Ambassadors) is to serve as representatives of the MCB department, and to assist current and potential future MCB students through related recruitment and outreach activities. This course will provide training in public speaking, outreach, and recruitment for participants.
Typically offered: Fall and Spring
Instructor: Lisa Rezende
MCB 404 Bioethics (3 units)
Molecular biology is the science that undertakes the task to explain the molecular mechanisms that keep living organisms functioning. Getting to know these mechanisms is not only interesting from the pure sense of knowledge, but this information can be used to manipulate the physiology of the organism. The speed at which many biological discoveries have taken place in the last decades has been extraordinary. Terms like stem cell, gene cloning, and crops bioengineering are commonly used by science students in high school and the general public, and you hear about them in the media frequently. Many of these discoveries have immediate applications while others could (or will) be used in future ones. Many scholars (scientists in general and philosophers in particular) have raised concerns on the moral/ethical implications of several applications of this knowledge. This course is intended to bring these concerns to the consideration of this class. We will present and evaluate a select number of topics from the following points of view: 1) the science of the issue in question, 2) the significance and application of this scientific knowledge, 3) moral and ethical issues raised by the application of this science, 4) the social impact, and 5) legal consideration that these advances of biology could cause. We will evaluate, analyze, and argue each of these points. Honors section available (Fall and Spring only).
Typically offered: Fall, Spring, and Summer
Instructor: Angel Pimentel
MCB 416A Statistical Bioinformatics and Genomic Analysis (3 units)
The course introduces statistical methods and algorithms for analysis of high-throughput experiments in molecular biology using analysis of gene expression microarrays as a leading example. The course provides hands-on experience with data analysis, critical review of literature and communication of the results.
Typically offered: Spring of even years
Instructor: Lingling An
MCB 422 Problem Solving with Genetic Tools (3 units)
Computer-simulated laboratory.  Solving problems via genetic experiments in phage, yeast, and Mendelian genetic systems.  Individual and team projects require deduction and discovery of genotype, pathway, and genetic phenomena through crosses and phenotypic observation.  1 hour of lecture or one hour of on-line tutorial plus 6 hour of lab (on-line) each week.  Honors contract available and requires completion of additional problems in each section.
Typically offered: Fall and Spring
Instructors: Ross Buchan, Stephanie Capaldi
MCB 425 Cancer Discoveries (3 units)
This is a course that is designed to help advanced students understand cancer genetics, cell biology, tissue microenvironment, metastasis and clinical therapeutics.  Recent advances and their implications for the field will be emphasized. This is the second of a two-course series concerning the field of cancer biology. MCB 325, The Biology of Cancer, is a pre-requisite for taking this course.
Typically offered: Spring
Instructor: Joyce Schroeder
MCB 473 Recombinant DNA Methods and Applications (4 units)
This course offers an intensive lab experience to teach students the practical and theoretical aspects of modern molecular biology. In the first part of the course, recombinant DNA methods and bioinformatics are used to clone and identify an unknown gene. In the second part of the course DNA microarray technology is used to determine the effect of environmental stress on the global gene expression program in yeast, and to identify genes that control the stress response. Weekly lectures compliment the lab sessions, covering the theory and principles underlying the experiments performed during the course.
Typically offered: Spring
Instructor: Stephanie Capaldi
MCB 480 Introduction to Systems Biology (3 units)
The proteins in a cell are organized into networks and circuits that act to process information and control cell activity.   In this course we will explore the structure and function of these circuits through discussion of the relevant literature and by building and testing mathematical models of simple/toy circuits.  Emphasis will be placed on key concepts such as hysteresis, ultrasensitivity, adaptation, robustness and noise propagation.
Typically offered: Fall
Instructor: Andrew Capaldi
MCB 482 Modeling Human Disease (3 units)
The course focuses on the use of model organisms and other approaches to tackle current topics in biomedical and life sciences. Emphasis will be placed on discoveries that identify causes of, and therapies for, human disease. The course will be divided into four sections, each taught by an MCB faculty who is an expert in the topic under discussion. Students will be required to actively participate in critical thinking exercises throughout the course.
Typically offered: Spring
Instructor: Daniela Zarnescu