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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Microbiology (MICRB)

MICRB 460 (B M B 460) Cell Growth and Differentiation (3) Mechanisms and regulation of protein trafficking, organelle biosynthesis, cell development, signaling and cell cycle control. Emphasizes experimental design and analysis.

MICRB (B M B) 460 Cell Growth and Differentiation (3)

Cell Growth and Differentiation is a unique course that uses the primary literature to teach significant content in advanced cell biology while simultaneously exposing students to the scientific craft of experimental design and analysis. In addition to exploring historical and current cell biology research articles, students will develop two vital scientific skills; critical thinking as applied to experimental data and creative thinking about solving unresolved questions in cell biology.

There is no course textbook. As an alternative, we read from journals to explore questions about cell biology and how cell biologists decipher cell functions. Instead of a general survey of cell biology, we delve into specific issues, often looking at "classic" papers describing how a specific phenomenon was first investigated to place current questions in context before progressing to the latest publications exploring how innovative techniques have been applied to deciphering cell function.

The course is divided into four units, each of which emphasizes content in a different area. Actual content may vary from year to year as the course is updated to reflect progress in a field of research. We have previously explored the general areas of cell membrane dynamics, intracellular protein trafficking, cell cycle regulation, cell signaling pathways and cancer cell biology. Finally, the course ends with a unit on stem cells and therapeutic cloning technology. A portion of the final unit is also devoted to discussing the ethical implications of stem cell research with an emphasis on how to make personal decisions about how our society should approach these issues.

Reading guides are provided for each assignment to help students find and understand important points in reading assignments. Class periods are devoted to explanations and instructor-led discussions about the readings with an emphasis on understanding the questions, the methods used to approach the questions, the experimental results and the interpretations of the results. Furthermore, periodic class periods are dedicated to experimental approach exercises where students work in groups to practice posing new questions as suggested by our readings and proposing experiments to answer these questions. These skills are vital part of what cell biologists do daily, and these exercises provide practice in thinking like a scientist. Students have previously reported that by taking this course they acquired the ability to read and understand the primary literature and have gained an in-depth understanding about how to use various experimental techniques.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2006
Prerequisite: B M B 252

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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