Graduate Courses

Chen Lab - photo by Tracy MacDonough

Graduate Course Offerings Fall-Spring

FALL 2024


Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature



Experimental Design


BIOL 288

Pedagogy in STEM


BIOL 291

MCD Monday Seminar


BIOL 292

MCD Friday Seminar




Logic and Approaches to Scientific Discovery


BIOL 226

Advanced Molecular Neuroscience


BIOL 228

Developmental Neuroscience


BIOL 230

Grant Writing In The Biomedical Sciences


BIOL 289

Practice Of Science


BIOL 291

MCD Monday Seminar


BIOL 292

MCD Friday Seminar



BIOL 215

Applied Statistics 


BIOL 290

Career Planning


BIOL 291

MCD Monday Seminar


BIOL 292

MCD Friday Seminar



200A. Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature
Development of critical thinking skills via discussion of research articles on a broad range of topics. Prepares students to critically evaluate research publications, and improves their ability to organize effective oral presentations and to evaluate the oral presentations of other scientists. Enrollment restricted to graduate students in MCD biology, or by permission of instructor. (Formerly Critical Analysis of Genetics and Molecular Biology)

200E. Experimental Design
A multidisciplinary course that focuses on topics to consider when tackling biomedical research questions experimentally. Lectures highlight important issues to take into account, are coupled with group discussions and intensive analysis of primary literature, and involve case studies to practically demonstrate how these considerations might be implemented. Concurrent enrollment in Biol 200A is required.

200F. Logic and Approaches to Scientific Discovery
Multidisciplinary course with an emphasis on discussion of approaches and methods involved in the study of biological questions. Lectures focus on current gaps in our knowledge of topics and approaches to test models and hypotheses. Course focuses on current topics in RNA and DNA molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, stem cells, neurobiology, and genomics. Lectures coupled with small group discussions and written assignments.

201. RNA Processing
An advanced graduate-level course on biological aspects of RNA function and processing in eukaryotes. Lectures and discussions will be developed using the current literature.

203. Ribosomes and Translation
This course will cover in-depth the field of ribosome research, including the structure and function of ribosomes and the molecular mechanisms of protein synthesis. It will begin with an historical review of the ribosome field and proceed up to and including the most recent findings. We will focus on some central questions: (1) How is the accuracy of aminoacyl-tRNA selection determined? (2) What is "accommodation"? (3) What is the mechanism of peptide bond formation (peptidyl transferase)? (4) What is the mechanism of translocation? (5) What are the mechanistic roles of the ribosome and translation factor EF-G in translocation? (6) To what extent is the mechanism of translation determined by RNA? ( 7) Why is RNA so well suited for the ribosome? (8) How did translation evolve from an RNA world?

204. Chromatin
Eukaryotic DNA is complexed with histones to form chromatin. This course focuses on the ways in which chromatin influences and is manipulated to regulate gene expression.

205. Epigenetics
In-depth coverage of epigenetics focusing on how alterations in chromatin structure and DNA methylation establish and maintain heritable states of gene expression. Lectures are supplemented with critical discussion of recent publications.

206. Introduction to Stem Cell Biology & Ethics
Fundamental concepts, experimental approaches, and current advances in stem cell biology, with consideration of key ethical issues. Topics include: self-renewal and differentiation; the microenvironment; epigenetics; cell-cycle regulation; and how basic research translates to medical therapeutics. Ethical, moral, and political issues surrounding stem cell research are discussed with lectures from philosophy and other relevant disciplines.

206L. Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology
Provides students with hands-on experience in embryonic stem cell culture methods.

208. Cellular Signaling Mechanisms
All eukaryotic cells utilize intricate signaling pathways to control such diverse events as cell-cell communication, cell division, and changes in cell morphology. This course covers the molecular basis of these cellular signaling pathways, focusing on the most current research.

214. Advances in Cancer Biology
Provides students with knowledge of the latest concepts in cancer biology and cancer therapeutics, and a general appreciation of the rapid advances being made in this area of biomedicine.

215. Applied Statistics for Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
For experimental biologists: focuses on resolving practical statistical issues typically encountered in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology lab research. No prior experience in statistics or programming is necessary.

217. Influence of Environment and Experience on Brain Development
How environmental factors (animals' experiences, environmental toxins, etc.) affect the formation of neuronal circuits and brain function. Lectures and discussions use current literature.

218. CRISPR/Cas Technologies
Provides an overview of the continually emerging roles for CRISPR in biomedical research. Topics will include an overview of the CRISPR genome defense systems in bacteria, the mechanisms of DNA cleavage and repair, the many uses of CRISPR as a genome editing tool in model organisms, and discussions on the ethical use of the technology in precision medicine.

220. Outreach in STEM
Trains students how to plan, design, and develop STEM outreach programs. Outreach proposals focused on engaging communities from under-represented backgrounds.

226. Advanced Molecular Neuroscience
Students will learn about the basis of neural behavior at the cellular, molecular and system levels.  The first half of the course will focus on the cellular, molecular, and developmental aspects of the nervous system and we will cover two sensory systems: olfaction and auditory. The last half of the quarter will concern higher level functions of the nervous system such as processing and integrating information. We will also discuss a number of human diseases and disorders.  Enrollment limited to graduate students.

228. Developmental Neurobiology
Students will cover principles of nervous system development from the molecular control development, cell-cell interactions, to the role of experience in influencing brain structure and function.  Enrollment limited to graduate students.

230. Grant Writing
Introduces the fundamentals of grant writing in biomedical research, including best practices for presentation of data and communication of research findings. Students write and peer-edit most components of an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein F31 predoctoral fellowship. The course is designed for students in their second year or later of graduate study.

247. Stem Cell Research: Scientific, Ethical, Social, and Legal Issues

Investigates the scientific, ethical, social, and legal dimensions of human embryonic stem-cell research, including the moral status of the embryo; the concept of respect for life; ethical constraints on oocyte procurement; creation of embryonic chimeras; federal policies; and political realities. (Also offered as Biomolecular Engineering 247. Students cannot receive credit for both courses.) Prerequisite(s): Course in stem cell biology (ex: BME 278 Stem Cell Research) or the equivalent knowledge. Enrollment is restricted to graduate students. (Also offered as Biomolecular Engineering 247. Students cannot receive credit for both courses.) Prerequisite(s): Course in stem cell biology (ex: BME 278 Stem Cell Research) or the equivalent knowledge. Enrollment is restricted to graduate students.

288. Pedagogy in STEM
Prepares graduate students to help teach university science courses. Weekly class sessions include activities and interactive discussions of diverse modes of learning, diverse ways of teaching, peer instruction, assessment of learning, equity and inclusion, and professional ethics. Students also visit an active learning class and an active learning discussion section at UCSC, then write evaluations of the teaching strategies used in those classes. (Formerly Teaching Assistant Training.) Enrollment is restricted to graduate students.

289. Practice of Science
Examination of ethical and practical scientific issues, including the collection and treatment of data, attribution of credit, plagiarism, fraud, and peer review. Career issues, including how to apply for grants and positions in industry or academia, will be discussed.

290. Career Planning
An important goal of graduate programs is to train students for diverse careers. Exposes molecular, cell, and developmental biology graduate students to diverse career options and helps them develop individual development plans to target their graduate training to their selected career goals.

291/292. Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Seminar (every quarter)
Topics of current interest in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology are presented weekly by graduate students, faculty, and guest speakers.

297. Independent Studies (every quarter)
Independent study for graduate students who have not yet settled on a research area for their thesis.

299. Thesis Research (every quarter)
Thesis research study for PhD graduate students who have advanced to candidacy.



Please refer to the online UCSC Catalog for additional graduate course listing information.

Additional information about our graduate program is available on the Graduate Advising website and in the MCDB Graduate Handbook.