With experimental science at its core, this interdisciplinary course addresses topics in genetic engineering, molecular biology, and immunology through a mentored review of scientific and popular literature, discussions, and practical problem-solving. As a student interested in research science, you will gain valuable experience in experimental design, predicting experimental outcomes, critically analyzing data, and communicating scientific results.
The course is organized into six one-week, self-paced modules. Progress is enhanced through online discussions and real-time interaction with classmates and instructors. The following module overviews include summaries of content and related learning goals.
In Module 1, we jump right in to reading DNA coding sequences. Goals include gaining an understanding of:
• The purpose and structure of Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)
• Genetic variants known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)
• How SNP Libraries are created
In Module 2, you will work through challenging problems to develop an understanding of molecular cloning. Goals include gaining an understanding of:
• the kinds of problems molecular cloning can be used to solve
• the purpose of each step in a molecular cloning strategy
• some of the tools available for planning cloning strategies
• a framework CRISPR technology (explored in Module 6)
In Module 3, Polymerase Chain Reaction is introduced into the toolbox. Using genome sequence data, we’ll validate rtPCR tests to detect the presence of the SARS CoV-2 and other viral pathogens. Goals include gaining an understanding of:
• the basic principles behind polymerase chain reaction.
• examples of how PCR can be adapted to solve specific problems.
In Module 4, we examine how phenotype is influenced not only by changes in gene sequence but by changes in levels of gene expression. Goals include being able to:
• interpret an electropherogram (a DNA sequence plot)
• interpret patterns of gene expression using DNA Microarray results.
• recognize differences between examples of short-term gene regulation and examples of longer-term regulation achieved through epigenetic mechanisms
• explain how gene imprinting, a special case of epigenetic regulation, works
In Module 5, we take a look at an assortment of immune-based assays and address the following questions: How are components of the highly specific and diverse mammalian immune response exploited as great tools for use in both the laboratory and clinic? How is the immune system organized? Goals include gaining an understanding of:
• the basic principles behind immune detection.
• what antibodies are and how they function.
• the usefulness of antibodies and immune assays as tools to solve specific problems
In the closing module, we'll take a look at CRISPR Technology. In addition to being relevant and challenging, it will be a great way of tying together the many concepts covered in previous modules. Goals include gaining an understanding of:
• the basic principles upon which CRISPR Technology is based.
• the details of CRISPR-mediated gene knockout.
• details of at least one of the many variations on Basic CRISPR technology.
Introductory Biology A basic understanding of the following topics is assumed in this course: DNA Structure DNA Replication Transcription Translation If you’ve had some exposure to these topics but feel the need for some review, any high school level text book will serve as an appropriate source for brushing up. DNA Explored is a software package recommended (but not required) for students who feel they’d like a more thorough review of these topics. The cost of download is $6 per student. Please email the instructor for details.
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.