Office of Undergraduate Instruction

01:694:215 Honors Introduction to Research in Molecular Biology

This course fulfills the requirements for 01:694:315 for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry majors or 01:447:315 for Genetics majors. This course may also be used to fulfill the elective requirements of the Biological Sciences and Cell & Neurobiology majors.

Offered: Fall  Lecture: TF3 (Tues/Friday. 12:00-1:20 PM),
Lab Section H1 - T4,5 (Tues. 1:40-4:40 PM),
Lab Section H2 - W4,5 (Wed. 1:40-4:40 PM),

Credits:  4

Prerequisites:  Registration will only be allowed to Honors Freshmen students who have placed out of the General Biology courses (01:119:115-116-117) with AP Biology credit. Corequisite: General Chemistry 01:160:161 or 163 or have passed the Chemistry AP exam. Enrollment will be limited because of laboratory space and resources.

Course Description:  The main goal of this course is to encourage undergraduate students to conduct independent projects in biomedical research laboratories at Rutgers and RWJMS. The course is designed to introduce students to many of the modern techniques used in genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry that they may use in research by giving them as much "hands on" experience as possible. Students will carry out a research project for which the results are unknown and the outcome could potentially lead to new avenues of research. The topics covered in this course will provide students with a very good foundation for taking upper level genetics and biochemistry courses in subsequent years

The Project: After some initial training in techniques commonly used in biomedical research labs, students will work on their main research project. The project involves isolating mutants in a transcriptional regulatory protein in yeast. Students will perform a genetic selection for the mutants and then use different assays to determine how the mutations affect transcriptional silencing and repression of genes in yeast. The DNA sequences of the mutants will be determined and the students will derive the predicted change in the protein sequence. Students will then map their mutation on a model of the protein structure and hypothesize how it will affect the protein's activity. There will also be discussions about research presentations and finding a research lab to do independent research projects as an undergraduate at Rutgers.

Week      Topic

1            Introduction; Why is transcription important for biology and human diseases? Review of the general process of gene expression.

2            Why do we work in yeast? Review of yeast biology and genetics.

3            Eukaryotic chromatin structure and the role of Sir2 in transcriptional silencing

4            Vectors and plasmid DNA purification

5            Analyzing DNA - Restriction enzymes, PCR, and gel electrophoresis

6            DNA sequencing and analysis

7            In Class Exam

8            Genetic and biochemical analysis of transcriptional regulatory sites

9            Genetic and biochemical analysis of transcriptional regulatory proteins

10          Silencing vs repression, PCR Mutagenesis and genetic screens for mutants

11          Principals of protein structure

12          Protein structure modeling using jMo,l Results, problems and interpretations

13          Finding a Lab, Careers in Biomedical Sciences

14          Exam

The course is designed with two 80 minute lecture periods and a 3 hr laboratory section.

Course URL:  All course materials will be posted on the course Sakai site

Learning Goals: This course satisfies learning goals 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the MBB Department.

Core Curriculum Learning Goals met by this course:

IRT y. Employ current technologies to access information, to conduct research, and to communicate findings.
IRT z. Analyze and critically assess information from traditional and emergent technologies.

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

Exams: 40%
Quizzes: 30%
Clickers: 5%
Lab Reports: 15%
Assignments: 10%

Exams will be in class and will account for 40% of the grade. The exams will focus on the material covered in the lectures and assigned reading.

Quizzes: Brief, unannounced quizzes will be given at the beginning of lectures to test your understanding of the lecture material covered in the previous week and the lab exercises planned for the upcoming week. These will account for 30% of your grade.

Clickers: Several times during each lecture there will be questions that the students will respond to using the I-clicker response systems. Many of these responses will be graded. The accumulated scores will account for 5% of the total grade.

Lab Reports: Through the semester Reports will be due on various experiments the students will perform.  Your lab report will contain the data (plate and gel figures, Sequence alignments and a picture of the structure) that you generated during the course and your interpretation of the results. Each lab report assignment will be be posted on the Sakai Assignment page with a .doc file outlining the steps and questions students need to address in the reports.  It will not be necessary to rewrite the introduction or methods.   Remember, these are new experiments!  There is no right or wrong to your results or analysis of the data and so you will not be graded on whether or not the experiment fails or that there were no “correct” results.  These will count for 15% of the total grade.

Assignments: Homework assignments will be given out through the semester.  These include submitting questions on material that was covered in class and homework assignments.  They may also cover activities that were done and handed in class These will count for 10% of the grade.

Course Materials:  A laboratory and lecture manual is provided on-line with the class.  All course materials will be posted on the course Sakai site.  Students are required to purchase an iClicker brand student response clicker for the course

Course Closed?  Enrollment is limited because of laboratory space and resources. This course is only for First Year Honors students. Second or third year Honors MBB or Genetics students interested in this course should enroll in  694:316 which is cross listed during the fall semester. Non-Honors MBB or Genetics students interested in this course should enroll in 694:214 or 694:315, which will be held in the spring semester.

Faculty:  Course Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office Hours: This course is designed to provide students with a unique, specialized laboratory experience. Thus, course participants are likely to require individualized attention at irregular and unpredictable intervals. To accommodate this unusual situation, the instructors have arranged to be as accessible as possible. The instructors are present through the entire lab period to answer questions.  Therefore, we are not restricting students to pre-scheduled office hours; instead, students are encouraged to email or call us to make an appointment if you have problems or questions. We are always here during the week and available at some points on weekends and nights by email. Prof. Vershon's Office hours are 7:00-10:00 AM on Tuesdays

 ** All information is subject to change at the discretion of the course coordinator.

Contact Us

Nelson Biological Laboratories

Nelson Biological Laboratories
604 Allison Rd
Piscataway, NJ 08854

p. (848) 445-2075
f.  (732) 445-5870