Skip to main content

Cell Biology Graduate Program (CELL) CELL Course Descriptions

icon_note   Note: Click on course titles to access the description.


Course Descriptions

Laboratory Rotation (CELL 6008)

The majority of students will have completed their lab rotations in year I while enrolled in the required BBSC 6301 laboratory rotation course. The students are expected to have chosen their mentor before starting year II. With the approval of the Program Director, any student who has not chosen a mentor and lab in which to conduct their dissertation research can register for Cell Laboratory Rotation.

The objectives of this course are to acquaint students with the research activities of individual faculty members and to assist students in selecting their areas of specialization. Upon mutual agreement with faculty, the students will rotate through 1-2 laboratories during each term in year II and spend approximately seven weeks in each laboratory. During this time the student will observe and participate in specific research projects. It is expected that the student will spend a minimum of 12 hours in the laboratory per week. Grading will be based on a written report describing the project worked on in each laboratory. Course may be repeated for credit.

1-9 credits
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor and the Program Director
Term offered: Fall, Spring, or Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 12 - 36 Laboratory


Research (CELL 6097)

Formal research directed toward Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy degree programs. Grading will be based upon the student’s level of performance as reported by the student’s research supervisor and will be assigned as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

3-9 credits
Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Fall, Spring, or Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 3 - 27 Laboratory


Thesis (CELL 6098)

The Cell Graduate Program does not recruit students for the Master of Science degree. However, in certain special circumstances, students who are unable to continue with their Doctorate of Philosophy degree research program may be allowed to obtain a Master of Science degree.

Formal research and writing, leading to the preparation and completion of the thesis for the Master of Science degree, is expected under the direction of the student’s supervisory committee. Grading will be based upon the student’s level of performance as reported by the chairperson of the student’s supervisory committee and will be assigned as Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. Students that elect to transition to MS degree, due to special circumstances as described above, are expected to register for a total of 9 credit hours.

3 - 9 credits
Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy for the Master of Science degree
Term offered: Fall, Spring, or Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 1 Conference or Discussion; 3 - 7 Research


Dissertation (CELL 6099)

Formal research and writing, leading to the preparation and completion of the dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, is expected under the direction of the student’s supervisory committee. Grading will be based upon the student’s level of performance as reported by the chairperson of the student’s supervisory committee and will be assigned as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Students in Dissertation are expected to register for a total of 9 credit hours.

3 - 9 credits
Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree
Term offered: Fall, Spring, or Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Variable
Introduction to Protein Structure and Function in Cells (CELL 6130)


Seminar (CELL 6195)

The objectives of this course are to expose students to a wide range of current research topics in cell biology, and to allow students to organize and present seminars in their own fields of interest. All Cell Biology Graduate Program students must register for seminar course every term irrespective of status in the program. Generally, the class will be graded S/U. However, in the semester the student presents a seminar, the student will receive a letter grade from an assigned faculty member.

Specific expectations for achieving a grade S are as follows:

All students are expected to attend seminars presented by local and invited speakers on a regular basis. All students (pre-candidacy and in candidacy) are required to attend all Cell student seminars, including oral qualifying exam presentations and oral defense presentations, and faculty candidate seminars. A sign-up sheet will be available to each student at the start of each semester. The sign-up sheet must be completed by the student and turned in to the coordinators office one week before the end of the semester. Excuses will only be granted with PRE-APPROVAL of the Course Director. Failure to attend a required seminar (as described above) without an excuse will result in an unsatisfactory (U) grade. Students are also required to attend seminars of invited speakers if the speaker has been invited by the Cell Program.

Students in pre-candidacy are required to attend 12 seminars per term. These can include seminars presented by Cell students, faculty candidates and Cell invited speakers. The students will be responsible for maintaining their sign-up sheet for the semester and will turn it in to the program coordinator at the end of the semester. Pre-candidacy students are required to give a seminar once a year which describes the research project they have worked on either during a lab rotation or after the student has chosen a laboratory to work in on their dissertation proposal. The student will receive a letter grade (A-C) from the assigned faculty/examination committee members in the semester in which the student gives a seminar.

Students in candidacy are NOT required to document 12 seminars per semester though seminar attendance is still an essential part of training as a doctoral student. Students in candidacy are, however, required to record attendance of all Cell student seminars and faculty candidate seminars on the sign-up sheet provided by the program coordinator in order to receive a satisfactory (S) or letter grade. Students in candidacy are expected to present their research once per year, and will receive a letter grade in the semester they present the seminar. This can include the seminar given at the time of oral exam/oral defense. The annual seminars may be coordinated with a committee meeting. In the semester the student presents their research seminar, the student will receive a letter grade. The student must have recorded attendance at all Cell student and faculty candidate seminars on the sign-up sheet provided until and unless they have received pre-approval by the program director to be excused.

1 Credit
Prerequisites: None
Terms offered: Fall, Spring, or Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 1


Imaging in Biology (CELL 6207)

This is a 16 week course consisting of 3 modules that will encompass the basic principles of imaging. This course is taught from a syllabus that will be available on the first day of the class. A letter grade (A-F) will be given. The final grade in this course will be determined from class participation, student presentations and written exam.

The first module is comprised of the principles of imaging, which will cover:

— The basic properties of electromagnetic waves
— Laser/non-laser radiation
— Interaction of light with molecules, cells and tissues
— Fundamentals of spectroscopy and imaging
— Laboratory demonstrations and paper discussions

The second module will cover fluorescence microscopy from both the theoretical and practical points of view. There will be a series of lectures as well as practical applications including:

— Image processing
— Light microscopy (phase and DIC)
— Confocal and multiphoton laser scanning microscopy.

The last module of this course will cover single molecule detection and manipulation, including atomic force microscopy. In addition to lectures, this segment will also consist of demonstrations and group discussions.

2 credits
Prerequisites: None
Terms offered: Fall
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 2 - 4


Advanced Academic Success Skills - Part I (CELL 6217)

Academic Success is heavily dependent on scientific communication and writing skills. Successful scientists can spend anywhere from 50-80% of their time reading, writing and presenting their data. For this course, the lecturer works with each student and facilitates the students to develop their specific dissertation proposal in the NIH RO1 format. In Part I of the course, the students learn how to improve their presentation skills as an oral seminar, and learn how to present their dissertation proposal as an oral seminar in allocated time. In Part II of the course, the students learn how to develop their dissertation proposal in the NIH RO1 format. The schedule for Part I and Part II of the course is flexible and developed with the students who are taking the course. All the work in this course will be graded on an A-F scale. Class participation and home assignments (which must be e-mailed/submitted 1 day before the indicated class date), accounts for ~25% of the final grade for both Parts I and II. 75% of the final grade is based on the quality of the oral presentation of the dissertation proposal (Part I), and written research proposal (Part II). The grade for the oral and written proposals is given by an assigned examiner.

2 credits
Prerequisites: Must have chosen the primary mentor and an area of research in which the student will work for their dissertation research, Preferably the student will have developed the specific focus of their research in the mentor’s laboratory, and generated some preliminary data towards their goals/hypothesis
Terms offered: Fall, Spring
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 4 for both Parts I and II (which run concurrently)


Advanced Academic Success Skills - Part II (CELL 6218)

Academic Success is heavily dependent on scientific communication and writing skills. Successful scientists can spend anywhere from 50-80% of their time reading, writing and presenting their data. For this course, the lecturer works with each student and facilitates the students to develop their specific dissertation proposal in the NIH RO1 format. In Part I of the course, the students learn how to improve their presentation skills as an oral seminar, and learn how to present their dissertation proposal as an oral seminar in allocated time. In Part II of the course, the students learn how to develop their dissertation proposal in the NIH RO1 format. The schedule for Part I and Part II of the course is flexible and developed with the students who are taking the course. All the work in this course will be graded on an A-F scale. Class participation and home assignments (which must be e-mailed/submitted 1 day before the indicated class date), accounts for ~25% of the final grade for both Parts I and II. 75% of the final grade is based on the quality of the oral presentation of the dissertation proposal (Part I), and written research proposal (Part II). The grade for the oral and written proposals is given by an assigned examiner.

2 credits
Prerequisites: Must have chosen the primary mentor and an area of research in which the student will work for their dissertation research, Preferably the student will have developed the specific focus of their research in the mentor’s laboratory, and generated some preliminary data towards their goals/hypothesis
Terms offered: Fall, Spring
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 4 for both Parts I and II (which run concurrently)


Maternal and Fetal Biology (CELL 6222)

The course will advance the interest and knowledge in the area of maternal and fetal medicine. The students should achieve a broad perspective of reproductive systems and process, and become familiar with modern experimental approaches, both in vitro and in vivo. It is designed to enable the students to understand: 1) the development and function of reproductive system; 2) normal changes associated with pregnancy; 3) physiological processes that affect maternal and fetal well-being; 4) the mechanisms by which pregnancy affects fetal outcome. Experience is gained by working with the faculty and the other students in an active class discussion. Emphasis is also placed on the role of developmental programming of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Grading: The student will get a letter grade (standard A to F) based on class participation (50%), assigned paper (25%) and oral presentation that the students will be required to prepare on a topic of chosen interest (25%).

2 credits
Prerequisites: None
Terms offered: Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture, 2


Teaching Gross Anatomy (CELL 6324)

This course provides additional training in gross anatomy for graduate students anticipating future teaching responsibilities in this discipline. Enrollment is only open to those students who have had significant previous training in human gross anatomy, including extensive dissection experience. This course requires performance as a teaching assistant in the gross anatomy lab on a daily basis and may include gross anatomical pro-section dissections and formal presentations of the dissected regions to the SOM freshman medical class, senior medical students, and/or PA/PT students in the School of Health Professions. Participation in a clinical anatomy journal club is also required. Grading (S/U) will be determined by the Course Director based on observation of performance in the laboratory, knowledge of and skill in demonstrating anatomical structure, student evaluations, and presentations in small group setting. Students will receive periodic written feedback during the course regarding their performance. Although traditionally offered in the fall semester, actual dates and times of the course will be determined by the anatomy teaching staff. Enrollment requires prior consultation with and approval of Course Director. Depending on various circumstances, the course may not be offered every calendar year.

3 credits
Prerequisites: Cell 6701 - Gross Anatomy (Must have received a grade B or higher and have approval by dissertation mentor.)
Terms offered: Fall
Year offered: Annually (Depending on various circumstances, the course may not be offered every calendar year.)
Hours per week: 3 - 6 Laboratory and Lecture


Cellular & Molecular Mechanisms in Health & Disease (CELL 6401)

The course is designed to teach latest advances in Cell Biology, with emphasis on molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways. Topics will be taught by faculty who have the expertise and conduct research in the subject matter. A total of 14-15 topics will be taught. Prior to the start of the course, students will receive suggested reading for each topic to be covered in the course. Suggested reading material will help the students gain basic and current understanding of the topic to be covered, and students will read the suggested literature before the week in which the topic is taught. On Day 1(Monday) of the week, faculty will present an overview of the topic and query the students for knowledge they are expected to have gained by reading the suggested literature. Faculty will then assign students specific topics that they will need to present and discuss on Wednesday. On Day 2 (Wednesday), students (in pairs or singly) will be requested to lead the discussion on the assigned topics. Each week, 2-3 topics within an area, will be covered. Students will lead the discussion and faculty will facilitate the discussions, to ensure that all students contribute to the discussion. On Day 3 (Friday), faculty will have a wrap-up session and challenge the students with specific questions on the topic, to judge critical thinking skills. Grades will be based on student knowledge (day 1), participation and written/oral presentations (day 2), and answers to critical thinking Qs (such as problem solving exercises) ( day 3 ). Faculty will provide a score for each day, on a scale of 10, for each student. A grid for each day will be sent to the faculty for providing written scores. Grades on all three days from all weeks will be combined and calculated as a percent. Final grade will be formulated as a letter grade, wherein: 70-79%=C; 80-89%=B; 90-100%=A. A grade of less than 70%=Fail.

4 credits
Prerequisites: All Graduate Students, other than MD-PhD students, should have passed required BBSC courses 6401, 6302, 6403, 6222, or have authorization to enroll from the course director.
Terms offered: Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 4, Conference or Discussion



Human Gross Anatomy (CELL 6701)
Lectures, conferences and laboratory work cover the gross anatomical structure and function of the human body. Additional bi-weekly conferences focus on such topics as the history of anatomy, anatomical terminology, developmental anatomy, and anatomical topics in current medical and scientific literature. Exposure to Problem-Based-Learning is also likely. Laboratory sessions involve the complete dissection of a human cadaver (4-5 students/cadaver). Laboratory study is aided by anatomical models, permanent glass-mounted dissections, roentgenograms, computer-based cross-sectional anatomy exercises and gross pathology demonstrations. Grading will be based on midterm and final examinations which will include written and laboratory practical formats. These examinations will determine the majority of the course grade with PBL and small group discussion contributing the remainder. Examination scores will be based on an adjusted percentage correct with 70% level as passing as used in examinations for School of Medicine students taking the course. Although traditionally offered in the fall semester, actual dates and times of the course will be determined by the anatomy teaching staff. Enrollment requires prior consultation with and approval of Course Director. Depending on various circumstances, the course may not be offered every calendar year.

2 credits
Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Fall
Year offered: Annually (Depending on various circumstances, the course may not be offered every calendar year.)
Hours per week: 7, Laboratory and Lecture