Genetics Beyond Mendel

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 11, 20217/19 - 8/113 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineKatherine Berry

Course Description

Genetics has come a long way since the time of Mendel. This course will provide a broad overview of modern molecular genetics, including recent advances in the field. We will explore both Mendelian and non-Mendelian biological systems, and discuss the ways in which genetic systems can defy the "Central Dogma" of molecular biology (genes encode RNAs encode proteins). This course will emphasize both fundamental concepts and cutting-edge topics in genetics.

We will explore the different types of mutations, how they interact, and how they can be used for biomedical research. We will discuss how genes are turned on and off and spliced into alternative forms. We will discuss epigenetics, which can heritably alter gene expression without changing DNA sequence. We will learn about transposons, viruses, and their impact on the genome - as well as their hosts’ defenses and the usefulness of these defenses in research. Finally, we will look at therapeutics for disease and societal issues related to genetics. This asynchronous online course will consist of daily lectures, readings, short problem sets, and online discussions. Students will post questions about the material (something they were curious about or didn't understand) and respond to each other’s questions. The instructor will also answer questions and hold online office hours, which will enable students to discuss the material with the instructor. Additionally, students will complete a final project, which will be a written essay on a genetics topic of their choosing, with the instructor’s guidance. This topic could be a genetics story in the news, a particular disease of interest, an aspect of biotechnology, or a genetics topic with ethical implications.

As a result of completing this course, students will:
1) Gain a broad overview of genetics, both Mendelian and non-Mendelian
2) Be familiar with the structure of genes, mRNAs, proteins, and genomes
3) Think about biological problems at multiple levels simultaneously
4) Appreciate biological variability, including normal variation, mutations, and disease states
5) Understand the connections genetics has with genome evolution, disease, and biotechnology
6) Appreciate the explosion in genetic knowledge and novel techniques in recent decades
7) Read popular science articles critically, noting missing information and judging credibility
8) Understand the scientific basis of societal issues related to genetics.

Prerequisites: Prerequisites: Completion of a high school biology course is required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI1019

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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