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Introduction to Human Genetics/Cell Biology


Block 1: Ralph Bertrand, Jacob Bertrand

Block 2: Jacob Bertrand, Ralph Bertrand

This course satisfies the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World (Lab) and Quantitative Reasoning requirements. 

This course will be co-taught and provide students with a foundation in Human Genetics and Cellular Biology from conceptual and laboratory-based approaches that foster critical thinking, technical lab skills, and quantitative reasoning. Students will study and think about how scientific questions can be addressed experimentally. Scientific research is communicated through seminars and research articles; students will begin to develop these basic science communication skills through oral presentations, use of the library to find research articles, and science writing assignments that are integrated into the topics and labs of this course.

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project (sequence of the human genome) the amount of research in human genetics has exploded and has become an integral part of all studies in human biology. Cells are the basic unit of all living things and thus an understanding of life at the cellular level is a basic foundation in Biology. Molecular Biology is an area of active investigation concerned with the myriad and complex molecular interactions that govern life at the cellular level.

Cell Biology and Genetics are some of the hottest areas of research in Biology today. Much of modern medicine, ecology and studies of human evolution are based on recent breakthroughs in these disciplines. Contemporary research in all sub-disciplines of biology (including ecology, taxonomy, physiology, etc.) use techniques and/or concepts from cell biology, and genetics. Recent advances in our understanding of genetics and cell biology makes it imperative that scientists and non- scientists have a basic understanding of cell function in order to make informed decisions regarding modern medicine, herbal supplements, prescription drugs, etc.

BY100 Introduction to Human Genetics

The objectives of the Human Genetics class are to learn some of the basic principles of classical and molecular genetics and discuss the impact of genetics from philosophical, social, medical, legal, and biological perspectives. Students should leave the class being able to develop an informed opinion on a variety of genetic issues including; In vitro fertilization, genetically modified organisms, forensics, cloning, personalized medicine, evolution, and pharmacogenetics.

BY131: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology This course will introduce students to the structures and functions of macromolecules and organelles in cells, examine the flow of energy and genetic information within and among cells, and will introduce some of the tools and techniques that can be used to investigate unanswered questions about life at the molecular and cellular levels. Cell Molecular Biology research has developed numerous tools that are indispensable for research in all sub-disciplines of biology as well as biochemistry, biophysics, forensics, medicine, and other fields. 


• The BY100 course satisfies the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World, and QuantitativeReasoning requirements.

• The BY131 course serves as a gateway to the Biology major (required for the Molecular Biology major as well as for the Organismal, Ecology, and Evolution major. This course is also required for the Neuroscience, and the Biochemistrymajors. The course will also satisfy the Critical Perspectives: Investigation of the Natural World Lab.

• This two-block course involves a lab that will meet roughly 2-3 times per week in the afternoons starting at 1pm andrunning for a few hours each time. In addition, there will be afternoon or evening review sessions prior to exams.       

Students enrolling in BY131/BY100 should have taken AP or IB Chemistry and received at least a 4 on the AP exam or a 5 on the IB exam. 

Students who attempt to preregister for the course without these pre-requisites will be dropped from the course and required to enroll in one of the sections that remains open after the preregistration process has been completed.

A set of linked, one-block courses, team-taught by two instructors; the two courses must be taken together, and a single grade will be assigned for each block.