Molecular Biology of the Cell

Course Leaders

Maria Ruggieri, PhD and Betsy J. Barnes, PhD

Academic Schedule

This one-semester course, held every three years in the fall/early winter semester (2014, 2017, etc); meets weekly for 2 hours.


Undergraduate or medical school courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and cell biology, or equivalent.

Overall purpose/objective

This course for graduate students (physicians, physicians-in-training, scientists-in-training) will provide advanced knowledge of the molecular basis of cell functions. This course expands the students’ understanding of cellular and molecular processes of the normal cell, and provides an understanding of the causes of disease when these cellular mechanisms become dysfunctional.

Conduct of the course

The course consists of a combination of didactic lectures by faculty based on Alberts “Molecular Biology of the Cell” – 5th edition (or latest edition, published by Garland Science), seminars given by visiting scientists with specific expertise in areas described above, and in-class discussions/presentations.

After completion, students will be able to:

  • Describe the basic biological processes of the normal cell
  • Describe some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease
  • Differentiate between normal and pathologic molecular and cellular processes
  • Explain experimental approaches used to uncover basic cellular & disease processes
  • Determine how basic experimentation leads to new potential therapeutics & drug discovery


Attendance of course lectures by faculty and seminars given by visiting scientists is mandatory.

Excused absences must be approved in advance.

Formative: Throughout the course, students will be assessed on attendance, class participation (in discussion), and quizzes/tests

Summative: Student will be assessed on final presentations of published papers relating basic cellular mechanisms to disease and leading a discussion of the work with the class.

Final grades will be comprised of attendance (30%), participation (30%), quizzes (10%) and final presentation (30%). A minimum score of 80% is required to pass the course.


Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Fifth Edition, Garland Science © 2008.

Harvey Lodish, Arnold Berk, Paul Matsudaira, Chris Kaiser, Monty Krieger, Matthew P.Scott, S.Lawrence Zipursky, James Darnell, Molecular Cell Biology, 6th ed., 2007. WH Freeman & Co., NY (

In addition, the course readings will include current primary research papers in the field of molecular and cell biology.