Course Listing

MCB Course Listing

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

Jump to MCB Colloquium Courses where you can explore exciting topics in small group discussions with faculty who are experts in the field.
MCB 170C1 Evolution of Modern Biology (3 units)
This course is designed to introduce students to concepts in modern biology, with an emphasis on the processes that created the current status of life on earth. Students should leave the course with the understanding of the relationship between DNA, RNA, proteins, genes the phenotypes. They will be introduced to basic metabolism, and the kinds of regulatory networks that control our cells. Students also will look at the ways that different types of reproductive strategies are utilized by populations of organisms. Finally, we will talk about the ways that humans are changing the rules-the impact of recombinant DNA technology on present and future human life.
Typically offered: Spring
*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
In-person: Fall, Spring and Summer
Online (7 weeks): Fall (AZ Online only), Spring (AZ Online only) Summer (icourse and AZ online) 
*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, Spring, and Summer
In-person: Fall, Spring and Summer
Online (7 weeks): Fall (AZ Online only), Spring (AZ Online only) Summer (icourse and AZ online) 


MCB Colloquium Courses (MCB195* and MCB 295*)

Explore exciting topics in small group discussions with faculty who are experts in the field.
MCB 195* courses are recommended for freshman. MCB 295* are recommended for students entering the MCB major in their sophomore, or later, years.
MCB 195B Genomic Medicine Colloquium (1 unit)
Students will explore the impacts of genomics on medicine, learn how to succeed in university-level biology courses, and explore career opportunities related to molecular biology and genomics. This is a first-year colloquium course. Topics will include big data biology, precision cancer treatment, personalized genomics, and ethics. 
Typically offered: Fall 
Dr. Ryan Gutenkunst
MCB 195C Toolkit for the Research Rookie (1 unit)
Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) majors to introduce students to MCB and prepare them for engaging in biological research.
Typically Offered: Fall and Spring
Dr. Pascale Charst
MCB 195G The Molecular Biology of Food (1 unit)
This course is intended to teach students about how food is produced, how we obtain the nutrients we need, and how technology via molecular biology underlies studies of nutrition and can transform how we will grow food in the future. Students will also explore the basics of cell and molecular biology, learn how to succeed in university-level biology courses, and explore career opportunities available to people with degrees in molecular and cellular biology. This is a first-year colloquium course.
Typically Offered: Spring
Dr. Frans Tax
MCB 195I What is MCB? (1 unit)
What is Molecular and Cellular Biology is a one-unit colloquium course where students will explore the basics of cell and molecular biology, learn how to succeed in university-level biology courses, and explore career opportunities available to people with degrees in molecular and cellular biology.
Typically Offered: Fall and Spring
Dr. Lisa Nagy
MCB 195J Biological Scientist's Approaches to Identify and Solve Big Problems (1 unit) 
In this freshman colloquium, molecular and cellular biology students will have the opportunity to think about Big Problems with biological connections facing society then work in groups to use imagination and scientific thinking to propose solutions. Students will learn to identify problems, research information on the topic, propose solutions, and communicate their ideas to their peers.
Typically Offered: Spring
Dr. Ted Wienert

MCB 195K Unusual Brains (1 unit) 
A Freshman Colloquium Course description: The weekly one hour discussion sections will alternate between discussing both fiction and non-fiction material on neurodiversity – original voices from news/entertainment media, short documentaries, and blogs or discussing the current approaches to studying the genetic variation that underlies neurodiversity, including the Autism Genome Project, the 10K Genome Project and other emerging genetics/genomics projects. These readings and discussions will be interspersed with tips on how to succeed in university-level biology courses, and exploring career opportunities available to people with degrees in molecular and cellular biology. This is a first-year colloquium course.
Typically Offered: Spring
Dr. Lisa Nagy
MCB 295A Immunotherapy Colloquium (1 unit)
Students will explore the current state of the art in immuno-oncology: the therapeutic approach designed to activate a patient's own immune system against cancer. This approach has recently garnered significant excitement as previously incurable cancers are seeing remarkable remissions. The course will provide a brief overview of cancer and the immune system, with a focus on the novel treatments of checkpoint inhibitors, and chimeric antigen receptor transgenic therapies.
Typically Offered: Fall
Dr. Joyce Schroeder
MCB 295C Cell Signaling in Cancer, Aging, and Depression (1 unit) 
25 years ago, Mike Hall and colleagues discovered a novel kinase they named the Target of Rapamycin (TOR or mTOR). This kinase is now known to act as the master regulator of cell growth and metabolism in eukaryotes.  Accordingly, defects in TOR function underlie many diseases including cancer, clinical depression, and diabetes. In this class students will learn about modern research in molecular and systems biology by walking through the major discoveries in the TOR signaling field--starting with basic research in yeast and moving to the study of disease and aging in humans. Each class period will focus on a new discovery and the experimental method(s) that were used to make that discovery. Students will practice interpreting real experimental data during class sessions and read and summarize a new paper in the TOR field for their final project.
Typically Offered: Fall
Dr. Andrew Capaldi
MCB 295D Stem Cells and Human Health (1 unit)
The course will guide students to explore the current state of the art in stem cell biology and medicine. It will provide a brief overview of stem cells, with a focus on their clinical potentials in revolutionary treatments of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, and other human health issues, as well as risks and ethical challenges. This course is a second-year colloquium and requires the students to either have completed or be concurrently enrolled in introductory biology.
Typically Offered: Spring
Dr. Guang Yao
MCB 295G Life in the Universe (1 unit) 
Students will explore the study of life in the Universe: also known as Astrobiology. The course will provide a brief overview of the ways the physiological limits of life on Earth have been considered to predict the potential for life to exist elsewhere in the Universe. We will explore key research from Astrobiologists investigating extant or extinct life and biosignatures from extreme environments. By conducting planetary field analogue studies, or by subjecting terrestrial samples to simulated space or planetary environments Astrobiologists are exploring the limits of life as we know it.
Typically Offered: Fall
Dr. Solange Duhamel


*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
In-person: Spring
Online: Summer (7 week, icourse and AZ online)

*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

*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 is part of a three-semester sequence that introduces MCB majors to the most exciting ideas in contemporary molecular and cellular biology. This course focuses on the structure and function of eukaryotic cells through the lens of cell and developmental biology. Key ideas in cell and developmental biology will be presented as working models along with examples of laboratory research used to confirm, refine or expand these models. Students will be asked to actively engage in reasoning with models by solving research-related problems both in and out of class. Examples will be based on health and environmental issues that affect our daily lives. 
Typically offered: Spring
MCB 310 Improving Learning in Science Classrooms - How to Make it Stick (3 units)
The field of learning sciences has revealed fascinating, and often unexpected, information about the process of learning. This course aims to guide students to investigate theories of learning and to help them begin to apply these concepts to their own learning. In the second half of the semester, we will investigate learning in social settings and discuss important factors to consider when supporting others' learning. Students will critically evaluate issues within educational systems that may positively or negatively influence learning. This course will be most applicable to students with a STEM major, as most of the discussion will focus on examples of learning topics in science and math. Many topics will focus on issues specific to learning in the sciences, including "math anxiety", "science identity", and "integrating scientific practices and concepts".
Typcially Offered: Fall
MCB 315 Quantitative Biology (3 units)
Modern biology and medicine are being revolutionized by quantitative measurements and models. Key to this revolution is the integration of life sciences with mathematics, engineering, physics, and computer science. To prepare UA students to understand and contribute to modern quantitative biology, MCB 315 is a one-semester introductory course covering contemporary quantitative approaches to biology.
Typically offered: Fall of even years
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
In-person: Fall
Online: Summer (7 week, icourse and AZ online)

MCB 330 Critical Reasoning and Problem Solving in Biomedicine (1 unit)
Students will read and analyze primary scientific literature on a variety of topics in molecular
and cellular biology that apply to biomedicine. Students will practice solving problems based on
authentic experimental data.
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
MCB 397C STEM Outreach and Recruitment (1 unit)
The purpose of the STEM Recruitment & Outreach Team (SORT) 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, SORT, along with the MCB Ambassadors, serve as representatives of the MCB department, and assist current and 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
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).
Online (full semester): Fall and Spring, Summer (7 week, icourse and AZ online)
MCB 410 Cell Biology (3 units) 
The molecular basis of the structure and function of animal, plant and prokaryotic cells with emphasis on experimental analysis. Honors section available. 
Online (7 week): Fall and Summer (icourse and AZ online)
MCB 411 Molecular Biology (3 units)
Mechanisms of genome replication, genetic recombination, DNA repair, gene expression and regulation. Honors section available. 
Online (7 week): Fall and Summer (icourse and AZ online)
MCB 416A Bioinformatics and Functional Genomic Analysis (3 units)
The course introduces bioinformatics and statistical methods for the analysis of large-scale experimental data in functional genomics. It uses the analysis of next-generation RNA-sequencing data as a leading example and prepares the students to perform independent analyses of genomic data in an interdisciplinary environment such as a research lab or pharmaceutical company.
Typically offered: Spring of even years
Syllabus: MCB 416A Bioinformatics and Functional Genomic Analysis
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.
In-person: Fall, Online Summer (icourse and AZ online)
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. Prerequisite: MCB 325 or MCB 305 (concurrent enrollment ok).
Typically offered: Spring
MCB 437 Life in Extreme Environments
Extreme environments are numerous and diverse on Earth. Despite harsh environmental conditions, microbes have been found thriving from the deepest seafloors to the highest mountains, from the coldest polar regions to the hottest and most arid deserts or steaming hot springs. Microbes survival in such extreme and varied conditions allows them to play fundamental roles in global nutrient cycling. The course will encompass foundational material for the study of life in extreme environments. In this course, we will examine microbial adaptations to their environment, how the adaptive responses affect microorganisms’ evolution and how microorganisms modify their environment. We will consider physical extremes, such as temperature, radiation, pressure, and geochemical extremes (e.g., desiccation, salinity, pH, depletion of oxygen or extreme redox potential). We will also assess how the study of life in extreme environments can provides critical elements of answer to important questions such as: ‘‘How did life appear on our planet?’’, “How microbes made Earth habitable?” and ‘‘Could life exist beyond our planet?’’, and explore the impact of human activity on ecosystems. Additionally, we will explore the wide application potential of this area of research in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, or cosmetics.
Typically Offered: Spring
MCB 442 Human Genetics: Sex, Crime, and Disease Human Genetics (3 units)
Sex, Crime, and Disease is an advanced genetics course and an introduction to the exciting and rapidly evolving field of human genetics. Through lectures, readings and case studies, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the human genome, current issues in human heredity and genetic diseases, and research methods in human genetics. Students will explore the societal implication of topics such as the human genome project, DNA fingerprinting, genetic testing for disease risk, use of genetics in genealogy and forensics, and gene therapy. Students will also acquire or improve their critical reading skills of primary scientific literature.
Typically Offered: Spring
MCB 447 Big Data in Molecular Biology and Biomedicine (3 units)
Recent technological advances enable the collection of massive biological data sets, both in the research lab and in the medical clinic. These Big Data offer opportunities for discovering new biology, but they also demand new analysis approaches. This course will introduce students with a strong molecular biology background to the use of Big Data statistics. Students will learn how to visualize complex data, identify biologically relevant clusters, model relationships between variables, and classify entities. They will apply these techniques to a diverse range of biological Big Data, including electronic medical records, gene expression measurements, and human population genetic sequences. Students will learn through homework, in-class exercises, and a substantive final project.
Typically Offered: Fall of Odd Years
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
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
MCB 497A Tutoring Seminar and Special Tutoring Workshop (2 units)
A special tutoring workshop associated with the MCB 181 lecture class. Students may enroll for 1-5 units. Tutors will attend all class meetings of one 181 lecture section, assist with in-class activities and exams, and hold regular office hours in the Koffler Tutoring Center. The once-weekly 497A meetings will be devoted to the introduction of techniques to improve tutors' ability to interact with 181 students and assist them in mastering foundational biology topics.
Typically Offered: Spring, Fall, Summer