Mechanisms of Disease

Among the most important and interesting areas of scientific investigation are the mechanisms that underlie disease. The study of this topic can be of great interest to those pursuing fundamental research, as well as those drawn to medicine, biotechnology, law, and public health. The introductory and intermediate level course offerings of the Biology Department provide a good foundation in understanding the fundamental principles underlying the mechanisms of disease. Departmental course offerings on a more advanced level include a set of seminars and lecture courses that focus on particular types of disease and disease-related mechanisms. The concentration is not designed for the average premedical student. It requires our more rigorous introductory biology course (BIOL 121), a statistics course, four intermediate level courses (including biochemistry), research experience, and 5 advanced electives encompassing major areas relevant to mechanisms of disease. This concentration should be of interest to those considering careers that require an understanding of disease mechanisms, providing these majors with an exceptional scientific foundation.

Requirements for the Mechanisms of Disease Concentration

Introductory Biology (1.5 - 3.0 cu):

  • Track 1: BIOL 121 with 123 (1.5 cu)
  • Track 2: BIOL 101 and BIOL 102 (3.0 cu)
Chemistry (4 cu):
Choose any 4 of the following courses:
  • CHEM 101 or 115 with 53 (1.5 cu)
  • CHEM 102 or 116 with 54 (1.5 cu)
  • CHEM 241 (1 cu)
  • CHEM 242 or 243 (1 cu)
  • CHEM 245 (1 cu)
Calculus (1 cu):
Choose either of the following courses:
  • MATH 104 (1 cu)
  • MATH 114 or 115 (1 cu)
Statistics (1 cu):
  • BIOL 446 or STAT 111 (1 cu)
Intermediate Biology (4-4.5 cu):
  • BIOL 204 or CHEM 251 Biochemistry (1 cu)
  • BIOL 205 Cell Biology (1 cu)
  • BIOL 221 Molecular Biology and Genetics (1 cu)
  • BIOL 215 Vertebrate Physiology (1 cu) or BIOL 251 Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (1.5 cu) or BIOL 404 Immunobiology (1 cu)
Advanced Biology Electives (5 cu):
Select one course on Microbes and Infectious Disease:
  • BIOL 375 Microbial Diversity and Pathogenesis (1 cu; spring only)
  • BIOL 406 Molecular Mechanisms of Infectious Disease (1 cu; spring only)
  • BIOL 475 Topics in Prokaryotic Biology: From Molecules to Microbes (1 cu, spring only) 
Select two courses on Genetic Underpinnings of Disease:
  • BIOL 466 Molecular Genetics of Neurological Disease (1 cu; fall only)
  • BIOL 482 Cell Signaling (1cu) 
  • BIOL 483 Epigenetics (1 cu; fall only)
  • BIOL 484 Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton (1 cu, fall only) 
  • BIOL 540 Genetic Systems (1 cu, spring- even years)
Select on course on Molecular Genetics and Genomics:
  • BIOL 422 Genomics of Human Disease and Evolution (1 cu; spring odd years)
  • BIOL 431 Genome Sciences and Genomic Medicine (1 cu; spring only)
  • BIOL 485 The RNA World: A Functional and Computational Analysis (1cu, spring-even years) 

Select one additional elective from the courses listed above or the following:

Fundamental Biological Processes:

  • BIOL 230 Evolutionary Biology (1 cu; spring only)
  • BIOL 448 Principles of Drug Action (1 cu; fall only)

Microbes and Infectious Disease:

  • BIOL 376 Microbial Diversity and Pathogenesis Laboratory (1 cu; spring only)

Genetics and Genetic Diseases: 

  • BIOL 493 Epigenetics of Human Health and Disease (1 cu; spring only)

Molecular Genetics and Genomics:

  • BIOL 437 Intro to Computational Biology and Biological Modeling (1 cu; fall only)
  • BIOL 522 Human Evolutionary Genomics (1 cu; spring even years)

Research Experience (1 cu):

  • BIOL 399 Independent Study (1 cu; fall or spring)

How to apply for the concentration:

The director of the concentration is Dr. Nancy Bonini. Advisors for the concentration include Dr. Dustin Brisson, Dr. Brian Gregory, and Dr. Greg Guild.

After submitting an information form for the major and a worksheet for the concentration to the Academic Office, a student intending to complete the concentration in Mechanisms of Disease must meet with their assigned advisor to approve his/her choice of courses from this list.