Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC) BBSC Course Descriptions

Information About the Curriculum

The Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC) is composed of foundational courses (Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology & Genetics, Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research), and a series of 8- week laboratory rotations. Additional available activities include regular seminar and specialized courses. The descriptions for each course are detailed on the following pages. BBSC course offerings are dynamic. New courses are added and older courses are not offered every year. The following listings are provided as a general guide. All graduate course offerings can be found on the main page at "GSBS Course Offerings By Program".

The first-year BBSC offers an extraordinary graduate experience that furnishes a breadth of biomedical concepts and a strong foundation for advanced work.

All full-time students are required to take at least 9 credit hours of coursework in each of the three academic terms [I: Fall, II: Spring, III: Summer]. Listed below in numerical order are the BBSC course offerings. It is not a complete list of all offerings, but reflects courses that are eligible for the first-year requirements. Descriptions for each follow. The second digit in the course number represents credit hours.

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Basic Biomedical Science Course Descriptions


Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research (BBSC 6129)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This course will cover all topics recommended by NIH for required instruction in responsible conduct of research (RCR), described in NOT-OD-10-019, and will incorporate contemporary ethical and regulatory issues in modern biomedical research. The course will begin in the Fall term and will extend over all 3 terms of the academic year. Students will register for the course in the Fall term and will be automatically enrolled the following Spring and Summer terms. A grade of "IP" (In Progress) will be assigned at the end of the Fall and Spring terms, and a single, 1-hour course grade will be assigned at the end of the Summer term. Specific RCR optics covered in a given term will be temporally aligned with relevant science or research topics being taught in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum courses during that term. Small group sessions and case studies will be utilized to discuss and integrate designated RCR topics and will include various problem-based learning approaches. For each case scenario presented, students (individually or in groups) will be required to: 1) identify the stakeholders; 2) identify the ethical or regulatory issues raised or values at stake; 3) identify possible solutions, and 4) choose and justify the best solution. A grading rubric (based on preparation and participation but tailored to the specific exercise) will be distributed to the facilitators and students at least one day prior to each session and a grade assigned for each session. The average grade of all sessions over the three terms will be determined, and an average of 80% or greater is required to achieve a grade of Satisfactory.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: I, II, III Longitudinal
Year offered: Annually
Hours: Lecture 2; Discussion 14
Instructor: McKinney, Toliver-Kinsky


Frontiers of Science (BBSC 6195)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This course provides students the opportunity to hear about the latest advancements and techniques in a wide variety of biomedical sciences. Students are required to attend seminars by on- or off-campus speakers during each of the Fall and Spring terms. Students choose twelve seminars to attend on the basis of student interest and/or program recommendations. Grades will be satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) based on attendance.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: I, II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Seminar 1
Instructor: Toliver-Kinsky, Vargas


Principles of Laboratory Safety (BBSC 6217)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This course has been designed to include theoretical and practicum approach to biosafety for all students working in a laboratory. This course will focus on the BSL1-2 program with an introduction to BSL3. Topics will include risk assessment, personal protective equipment, proper use and selection of biological safety cabinets (BSCs) & chemical fume hoods, aerosol producing procedures, chemical safety, biological and chemical exposures, transport of biological materials, disinfection, waste handling and emergency laboratory procedures, regulatory requirements. Emphasis will be on the development of competencies in fundamental laboratory techniques and using risk assessment to work safely and aseptically in the laboratory. This class will prepare students for future advancement opportunities into BSL 3 laboratories. The laboratory portion of the course will focus on organizing a biosafety cabinet (BSC) or fume hood, proper techniques in a BSC, preventing aerosols, transportation of biological material, disposing of wastes, and emergency procedures and decontamination. Grades will be based on attendance, participation, oral presentation and laboratory skills. Both classroom and laboratory components must be successfully completed to pass the course.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: I, III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Laboratory 2; Lecture 1.5
Instructor: Brocard


Bioinformatics (BBSC 6223)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This is a required core course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). The goal of the class is to introduce students to the basic set of bioinformatics concepts and provide practical skills required to write/understand scientific research in the field of bioinformatics. The learning objectives are as follows: introduction to the field of informatics in a biological and biomedical context; learn how to manipulate chemical and biological target databases to extract information; understand the theoretical concepts and application of sequence comparisons; develop problem solving skills in using state-of-the-art computer programs in sequence comparisons and network analysis as applied to specific biological problems. Grading is based on homework, quizzes, examinations, and project presentation.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401 or consent of instructor
Term offered: III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 2
Instructor: Fofanov


Cell Biology (BBSC 6302)

2017 Calendar PDF
2017 Syllabus PDF
This is a required foundation course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). It is a sixteen-week course taught throughout the term to acquaint students with the basic principles of modern cell biology. The topics to be covered include regulation of basic cellular activities including functions of cell organelles, signaling, changes in cell numbers, interactions during development, and cellular organization into tissues. Grades will be based on the performance on in-class examinations and small-group discussion sessions.

Prerequisites: At least one-year college-level biology and chemistry; biochemistry recommended
Term offered: I
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3
Instructor: Choudhary, Oberhauser


Biochemistry (BBSC 6401)

2017 Calendar PDF
2017 Syllabus PDF
This is a required foundation course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). The course deals with the fundamental forces that are the basis for molecular interactions, and the translation of these forces into the structure and function of proteins. Emphasis will be on the principles that give rise to these forces; on applying the principles to biochemical problems, and on the use of the principles in understanding macromolecular structure and function. The course also covers the basics of intermediary metabolism; the application of knowledge as to the fundamental forces that are the basis for molecular interaction; and the integration of these forces into regulation, synthesis> and function of different biomolecules as they apply to developing an understanding of metabolism in homeostasis and disease. The course will have three lectures and two hours of small-group discussion and problem-solving sessions per week. Grades will be determined based on performance on written examinations and performance in small-group discussion sessions.

Prerequisites: College chemistry through organic, college physics and biochemistry recommended or consent of instructor
Term offered: I
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3; Conference/Discussion 2
Instructors: Lee, Morais


Laboratory Rotation (BBSC 6043)

2017 Lab Report Form
2017 Syllabus PDF
This is a required core course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). It is designed to provide students the opportunity to conduct laboratory experiments under the direct supervision of a faculty member. The primary objective of this course is to assist students in choosing a mentor and their area of dissertation specialization. Students in the BBSC are required to take three 8-week rotations in a minimum of two independent laboratories during their first year in the BBSC. The time commitment is at least 6-18 hours/week in the lab. Mentor expectations and grading criteria should be communicated between the mentor and student at the start of the rotation. Students will be required to submit a written report to include description of the research, experiments attempted, interpretations, accomplishments, etc., along with a Student Evaluation Report form completed by the faculty member.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: I, II, III with no more than six credit hours (16 weeks) in one lab
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 6-8 hours/week in the lab
Instructor: Toliver-Kinsky


Animal Models of Human Diseases (BBSC 6220)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course is intended to give an overview of the use of animal models in biomedical research, help students acquire the skills to write applications and protocols involving research animals, and prepare the students for their qualifying exams. The course will consist of weekly lectures and in-depth sessions on animal models of infectious and non-infectious diseases led by experienced faculty. Students will be required to present research paper(s) and evaluate the approach, usefulness, and validity of the models discussed. Also, students will be expected to write and submit an IACUC protocol, which will be critically reviewed by the course directors and randomly assigned members of the class. Grading will be based on presentations, written IACUC protocol, written critique of an IACUC protocol, final in-class exam, and attendance/participation in discussions.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: I
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 2; Conference/Discussion 1.5
Instructor: Dann, Travi


Critical Reading of Scientific Literature (BBSC 6104)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course is designed to introduce graduate students to critical concepts involved in understanding scientific literature. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing, comprehending, interpreting and evaluating scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals. This class is based on discussion format, and students will be expected to actively participate in classroom discussions, as well as lead one classroom discussion on an article of their choice. Grades will be based on the performance of presentation, attendance, and class participation.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 1; Conference/Discussion 1
Instructor: Vargas


Teaching in Molecular Biology and Genetics (BBSC 6127)

2017 Syllabus PDF
In this course, trainees will learn and practice how to facilitate small-group learning teams. Trainees will acquire teaching skills through workshops, observing faculty during small group discussions and finally applying these skills to serve as facilitators in BBSC 6403 Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG) small-group discussions. Facilitator Skills Workshops will be imparted by personnel from the School of Medicine Office of Educational Development. MBG course instructors will meet with the trainees and provide key discussion topics and teaching tactics prior to MBG small-group discussions with enrolled students. The trainees will then serve as lead facilitators for MBG small-group discussions to practice newly learned skills. In addition, trainees will participate in problem set review sessions for MBG students to observe and learn different teaching styles employed in an informal question/answer teaching sessions. Each facilitator will provide formative and summative evaluations of their co-facilitators and those BBSC 6403 students in their respective small groups.

Grading will be on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. A grade of satisfactory will be dependent on: (a) attendance of the student to all scheduled course sessions and instructor discussions (as detailed above); (b) writing a one-page reflective piece that will serve as self-evaluation; (c) acceptable performance as a facilitator judged by the course instructor with input from students enrolled in the MBG course.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6403 or consent of instructor
Term offered: I
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference 2
Instructor: Wairkar


Teaching in Biostatistics (BBSC 6128)

2017 Syllabus PDF
In this course, students will learn and practice skills necessary to facilitate students participating in biostatistics labs. Facilitator Skills Workshops will be imparted by personnel from the School of Medicine Office of Educational Development. At the end of the course, students will: (a) Be able to distinguish between actual content (the concept the small group is working on) and process (how the group works on acquiring and developing knowledge on that concept); (b) Understand the various group member roles related to both content and process; (c) Have practiced methods for effective communication; (d) Have learned effective questioning skills; (e) Have practiced effective listening skills and empathy; (f) Be capable of providing effective feedback; (g) Be capable of maintaining engaging group discussions and (h) Be able to provide constructive evaluations. Students will serve as lead facilitators for the lab component of students enrolled in BBSC 6222 (Biostatistics), where they will implement and develop their facilitation skills. Prior to each session with the BBSC 6222 students, small group facilitators will be provided with fully answered laboratory solutions and will have an opportunity to discuss these computer labs with course instructors. Each facilitator will provide formative and summative evaluations of those BBSC 6222 students in their lab sessions. This course is offered on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. A grade of satisfactory will be dependent on: (a) attendance of the student to all scheduled course sessions and instructor discussions (as detailed above); (b) writing a one-page reflective piece that will serve as self-evaluation; (c) acceptable performance as facilitator as judged by the course instructor, after consulting with the students being facilitated.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6222 or PHS 633 Biostatistics or PHS 6347 Applied Statistical Methods
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Laboratory 2
Instructor: Spratt


Project Proposal Preparation (BBSC 6221)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This course provides skills to develop a dissertation proposal and tools to understand how to best proceed in the preparation of a research proposal or to anticipate reviewer responses. Its goals are to acquire knowledge about basic principles governing proposed topic of dissertation; to become familiar with assessment of current research literature; to acquire practice in process of preparing, giving and critiquing a chalk talk; to acquire some practice in process of preparing, giving and critiquing a research proposal; to learn how to evaluate a grant and respond to such a critique by participating in an NIH style study section. Sample NIH grants and reviews are provided; and to learn how to present such evaluations in a group setting; to prepare a riposte and resubmit a research proposal after review. The course will be taught using some didactic presentations by faculty on what is a chalk talk, desired features of a proposal, the NIH study section approach, how to critique a proposal, and how to respond to a critique with examples. The faculty will also facilitate interactive discussions related to the above. The student will be expected to prepare a chalk talk of their proposed project, to write a proposal and a critique of a fellow student's proposal, to discuss the critiqued proposal, to prepare a riposte and re-submission. Grades will be based on class participation, presentations, and written material.

Prerequisites: Admission to a research group by a mentor
Term offered: I, II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 1; Discussion 3
Instructor: Navarro


Molecular Biology and Genetics (BBSC 6403)

2017 Syllabus PDF
2017 Calendar PDF
This is a required foundation course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). It will consist of three lectures per week and two-hour discussion sessions every other week for a total of sixteen weeks. Topics include nucleic acid structure, DNA replication, genetic recombination, recombinant DNA technology, mutations and their repair, transcription and its regulation, translation, Mendelian inheritance, the human genome, microbial genetics, transgenic animals and models of human genetic disorders, and human evolution. Grades will be determined based on the performance on four examinations, graded problem sets, and participation in small-group discussion sessions.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3; Conference/Discussion 2
Instructor: Barral, Bouyer


Neuronal Transmission (BBSC 6126)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This course provides a general background in cellular neuroscience with an emphasis on neuronal synaptic transmission. The first part of the course covers structure and molecular composition of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Topics covered include: synaptic structure and dynamics, molecular composition of post-synaptic ligand-gated ion channels, metabotropic receptors, signal transduction pathways, functional analysis of postsynaptic currents, synaptic plasticity and neuronal homeostasis. The second part of the course includes an in-depth reading and discussion of topics related to synaptic receptors mediating neuronal transmission in the central nervous system. This course will prepare students for upper level Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology courses and is also suitable for students interested in basic cellular mechanisms underlying brain function. Grading is based on written midterm and final examinations.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 1
Instructor: Laezza


Neuronal Excitability (BBSC 6207)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course deals with fundamental concepts that underlie electrical excitability, conduction of electrical activity and presynaptic mechanisms. Topics covered include electrochemical potentials, properties of voltage-gated channels, electrotonic spread vs. propagated activity, regulation of exocytosis, quantal analysis of transmitter release and analytical techniques including current and voltage clamp, single channel recording and noise analysis. The class will be presented as lectures with student discussion. Grades will be based on class participation and examinations.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3, Conference/Discussion 1
Instructor: Hamill


Principles of Drug Action, Pharmacokinetics and Biotransformation (BBSC 6208)

2017 Calendar PDF
2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course will cover the principles underlying drug and toxin mechanisms of action, as well as their metabolism and clearance. In particular, we will focus on mechanisms underlying the interaction between hormone and neurotransmitter receptors and full, partial, and inverse agonists, as well as analysis of the mechanisms underlying the actions of competitive, partially competitive and non-competitive inhibitors. Additionally, the mechanisms underlying allosteric modulation by drugs and endogenous ligands will be discussed along with how receptor activation engages underlying effector mechanisms. The latter portion of the course will focus on the mechanisms underlying absorption, distribution, elimination and metabolism of both toxins and therapeutic drugs. This will include metabolism by phase I and phase II enzymes, glutathione reductase, as well as drug elimination, duration of action, plateau principle, and continuous and intermittent dosing paradigms. The course will be taught primarily in lecture format with discussion of primary research articles. Grading will be based on class participation, homework problems, two written exams and a 15-minute oral presentation covering the similarities and differences between a pair of drugs that have similar therapeutic goals.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3, Conference/Discussion 1
Instructor: Johnson, Snodgrass


Genes, Environment and Disease (BBSC 6118)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course will address key mechanisms for the development of human disease and, more importantly, the interrelationships between genetic characteristics and exposure to environmental factors or pharmaceuticals in modifying the risks of developing health problems. The course will be presented as a set of eight sessions which will include lectures as well as discussions of assigned research papers that address the objectives of the course. Students will be assigned papers for presentation in the class. Each two-hour weekly session will discuss two papers if a lecture is not given by the faculty. Background reading will be suggested for each discussion. At the end of the course each student will select a recent published journal article, with approval of the instructor, and will prepare a report that critiques the article and places it in the context of the information gained from the course. The four specific topic areas will be: 1) Mechanisms of DNA damage by endogenous and exogenous agents; 2) DNA damage response including signaling pathways, DNA repair, cell cycle control and apoptosis; 3) The role of genetic variability in modifying responses to exposure to toxic substances and pharmaceuticals, and responses to DNA damage; and 4) The role of epigenetic effects and agents that modify them in determination of changes in gene expression, hormonal effects, and health outcomes. Grades will be calculated based on the performance of leadership in assigned paper discussions, participating in all discussions and report on published paper.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, or consent of instructor
Term offered: III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 1
Instructor: Abdel-Rahman


Vaccine Development Pathway: From Discovery To Licensure (BBSC 6219)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week introductory course will be taught in lecture format with a small number of expert lecturers. The course is designed to provide the basic scientist with an understanding of vaccine development from conceptualization through development, testing, and utilization. This multidisciplinary course was designed to introduce students to all of the aspects of vaccine development and utilization to include aspects of vaccines for infectious diseases and chronic non-infectious diseases (e.g., cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and addiction). Grades will be based on performance of two examinations and class attendance.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, BBSC 6403, or consent of instructor
Term offered: III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3.5
Instructor: Milligan, Bourne


Introduction to the Study of Biological Systems (BBSC 6103)

2017 Calendar
2017 Syllabus PDF
This eight-week course is designed to introduce graduate students to the study of biological systems, with specific emphasis on fundamental biochemistry principles. The course provides a review of the chemical structures of biomolecules, as well as the noncovalent forces underlying biomolecular structure, function and interaction. Course topics include macromolecule-solvent interactions, pH and dissociation, quantitative descriptions of biochemical equilibria, and laboratory strategies involving protein manipulation and purification. Basic thermodynamic principles are presented, including the concept of the free energy of a reaction as it relates to the synthesis, metabolism, and function of biomolecules. The format of the course includes lectures and problem-solving sessions. Students are expected to lead class discussions following the completion of assigned homework, and grades will be satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) based on completion of assignments and classroom participation.

Prerequisites: None
Term offered: III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 1.5
Instructor: Toliver-Kinsky


Biostatistics (BBSC 6222)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This is a required core course in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC) which will provide students in the basic sciences with an introduction to statistical thinking. Specific topics include basic summaries, probability and distributions, inference, experimental design, hypothesis testing, and statistical modeling. Grading will be based on the performance of multiple homework assignments, multiple lab assignments, several in-class quizzes, a final take-home exam, and class participation. Students will learn about the difference between populations and samples. They will learn the proper way to describe experimental results based on descriptive statistics and visualization strategies. They will learn about frequency distributions such as the normal distribution and the basics of probability. They will learn about experimental design and hypothesis testing. Specifically, they will learn when to correctly apply and how to perform the one sample t-test, student's t-test, paired t-test, one-way ANOVA, two-way ANOVA, repeated measures ANOVA, linear regression, correlation tests, nonparametric tests, and chi-square analysis. They will learn the basics of power analyses and sample size calculations. Each concept will be accompanied by a 2hr computer lab where the students will practice with real data examples using the software package R. Additionally, the students will critique basic science articles to learn the best way to present statistical results in manuscript format. This will include discussions about graphs and figures as well as how results are presented and discussed throughout the articles.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401 or Consent of instructor
Term offered: II
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3
Instructor: Spratt


Fundamentals of Inflammation (BBSC 6210)

2017 Syllabus PDF
This seven-week course deals with fundamental concepts pertaining to inflammation. Inflammation plays a necessary role in wound healing and tissue surveillance, but can also lead to chronic wounds and pathologic states such as inflammatory bowel disease. By moving fluids and white blood cells from the blood into extravascular tissues the host can eliminate abnormal cells, foreign particles, microorganisms, etc. and initiate repair processes. Topics include inflammatory cells, the role that pathogens (bacterial, viral and parasitic) play in inflammation, the mediators (lipids, cytokines, peptides, and other molecules) and cellular events involved in cell recruitment and movement through the vessel wall into tissue spaces. Common inflammatory processes and wound healing will be discussed. Grades will be determined by performance in the discussion of current literature and on one take-home short-essay exam.

Prerequisites: BBSC 6302, BBSC 6401, BBSC 6403 or consent of instructor
Term offered: III
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture 3; Conference/Discussion 1
Instructor: Hawkins, Midori-Horiuti, Reyes