Undergraduate Program in
Biology and Medicine


  Past Biology Course Offerings

Course No.

Course Title



BIO 107

Ethics & Science of Stem Cells

Stem cell research is one of the most important and exciting fields of current biological research. But the use of stem cells created from human embryos raises a number of ethical issues, many of which are unique to stem cells. This course will explore some of those ethical issues, but to understand these issues, the course will also help students understand the science behind the research.


BIO 113P

Perspectives in Biology Lab

This is the laboratory course which accompanies the lecture course Perspectives in Biology II. Course content is drawn from the lecture material and includes biological diversity, ecology, evolution, animal behavior, physiology and bioinformatics. Emphasis is placed on problem solving, critical thinking and experimental design.
While this course is designed to accompany BIO 113, students taking BIO 113 ARE NOT REQUIRED to register concurrently for BIO 113P. BIO 113P is strongly recommended for current or prospective Biology majors and is required for Biology majors. This lab courses is recommended for those intending to apply to medical school.

Prerequisites: Past or concurrent enrollment in BIO 113.


BIO 201

Lectures in Physiology

Function of various mammalian systems with special emphasis on humans. Topics include: nervous, endocrine, respiratory, circulatory, metabolic, muscle, and renal systems; both individually and the integration of their functions. Students will attend lecture and take examinations with students in BIO 204, Mammalian Physiology, along with a mandatory one hour recitation per week. Laboratory exercises will not be conducted.

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or 112 and BIO 111 or 113, or permission of instructor.


BIO 205W

Evolution Writing

Writing component of BIO 205. Students will research, write, and revise a review paper on a topic in evolutionary biology.

Prerequisites: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in BIO 205 or permission of instructor.


BIO 215

Molecular Biology of Cell Signaling

This course offers an introduction to cell signalling. We will explore basic molecular mechanisms of signal transduction, and study how these mechanisms are used in different contexts to direct cell fate during development, physiology and disease. The course will draw heavily on experiments from the classic and most recent primary literature.

Prerequisites: BIO 198 or BIO 190. One of the following is strongly recommended: BIO 202, BIO 250.


BIO 228

Lab in Cell and Developmental Biology

This course is designed to provide (i) training in specific methods used in molecular, cell and developmental biology research, with emphasis on data acquisition and analysis (ii) experience in the design and execution of experiments, writing scientific reports, and public scientific presentation.

Prerequisites: Strongly recommended BIO 250; should have completed biology core as well as chemistry requirements.


BIO 232

Genetic Diversity and Human Disease

Since the completion of this first draft of the human genome sequence in 2001, information on human genetic diversity and its relationship to trait variation (e.g., disease susceptibility) has been accumulating at an astonishing rate, aided by ever improving methods for rapidly assessing genetic differences among individuals. This course will provide an overview of the methods and findings of this recent research. Topics include: 1) the molecular basis and evolutionary history of single-gene disorders (e.g., cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia); 2) the genetics of traits influenced by multiple genes, such as common disorders like diabetes and schizophrenia and easily observable traits like height and skin color; and 3) the use of genetic information to reconstruct human evolution and migrations.

Prerequisites: BIO 198.


BIO 255

The Biochemistry of Male-Female Differences in Health and Disease

In many instances, women display different biochemical patterns than men in their metabolic responses to foods, nutrients, drugs, and other macromolecules, as well as to certain diseases. This course is designed to examine the relatively uncharted territory of such biochemical differences between males and females that are a consequence of their sex. Topics to be covered include alcohol metabolism, lipid metabolism, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Parkinsons disease, the cytochrome p450 system, and gene expression. Lecture and discussions will be integrated with areas of environmental and public health concern. [Note: The course will NOT be concerned with anatomical or physiological sexual responses, sexual development, or aspects of reproduction per se.]

Prerequisites: BIO 250


BIO 261W

Genetic Research A

This 4-credit course is geared towards providing hands on experience in conducting genetic research, with a focus on the genetics of complex traits such as behavior and development. Genetics of complex traits is an exciting and rapidly growing field. You will gain experience in conducting research in a laboratory environment using the insect Nasonia vitripennis and its sibling species (see link information below). Alternate projects involve using bioinformatic methods to investigate insect genome evolution & function, and basic molecular methods to confirm predictions. The skills you will develop include experimental design, genetic crossing, data analysis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), animal husbandry, research record keeping, basic bioinformatic and genomic methods, and research presentation. You have the option of continuing with your project in BIO 262W or BIO 395. For further information please contact Dr. Jack Werren werr@mail.rochester.edu.  If interested, you will fill out a questionnaire to apply for enrollment in the course.

Prerequisites: None.


BIO 262W

Genetic Research B

This 4-credit course is geared towards providing hands on experience in conducting genetic research, and providing students the opportunity to learn important skills in the rapidly expanding area of bioinformatics. The program aims to make students proficient in the use of the biological databases and bioinformatic resources available at the National Center for Bioinformatics (NCBI). A basic scripting component will introduce students to simple but powerful tools for both sequence and file manipulation. Opportunities will also exist for the students to experimentally test bioinformatic based predictions using standard molecular biology and genetic techniques. For further information please contact DR. Jack Werren werr@mail.rochester.edu to fill out a questionnaire to apply for enrollment in the course.

Prerequisites: None


BIO 264

Ecological Communities

Survey of ecological communities of eastern North America, with emphasis on field sampling methods, indicator species, species assemblages, ordination analysis, anthropogenic and natural disturbances, ecological succession, and habitat conservation. This is a hands-on, field-focused course that travels to natural and agricultural ecosystems of upstate New York, including beech-maple forests, ash-silver maple swamplands, sand dunes habitats, old fields, and apple orchards.

Prerequisites: One year of coursework in the natural sciences or permission of the instructor.


BIO 266

Tree of Life

This course will be centered around a survey of life's diversity with an emphasis on understanding phylogenetic relationships, trends in diversity over macroevolutionary time, and the use of comparative methods to address topics such as adaptation and convergent evolution. Methods for reconstructing phylogenetic trees (e.g., neighbor-joining, parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian), and the application of these trees to macroevolutionary questions will be reviewed.

Prerequisites: BIO 111 or 113.


BIO 271W

Topics in Drug Development

Americans today live longer and healthier lives than they did fifty years ago. Many of these health advances have been due to the discovery and development of therapeutic compounds (drugs). Despite these gains, there are still many health problems for which there are few therapeutic options. Thus, the development of new drugs to treat these diseases is the focus of intense effort. We will explore drug development approaches, including evaluation of natural products, screening compound libraries, and rational drug design. Students will choose a topic, write short pieces that serve as building blocks for the final 10-15 page review article, and revise this paper at least once.

This course satisfies one of your two required upper-level writing experiences. It is a half-semester course, meeting once weekly. There will be significant out-of-class time commitment required for writing, revision, self-assessment, and peer-review.

Prerequisites: Completion of the Primary Writing Requirement


NSC 221


Effective Spring '10: only available to BCS majors.
Course Description/ Course Schedule (CDCS)