Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Courses

The courses listed below include required courses of the core curriculum, research and milestone courses, as well as program specific advanced topics, seminars, journal clubs and tutorials for specialization in Interdisciplinary studies.

  • Professionalism and Research Conduct (PARC) | BBS 601

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, MD/PhD, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    This is a required course for all third year Basic Sciences students and all MD/PhD students entering doctoral study but who are not on the CPHR track. The PARC course helps to center our students in areas that are foundational to success in research: responsible data management; management of intellectual property; the ethical use of research subjects; recognizing and resolving conflicts of interest, professionalism in peer review and publishing; engaging mentors; and career exploration and planning. The PARC course comprises faculty-led presentations and small group discussions with case studies and workshop material. An online learning module (CITI training program comprising many case studies) is also included and must be completed before the end of the fall semester. 

    Course Directors: Anthony Imbalzano, Cynthia Fuhrmann

    Semester Offered: Fall 

    Last Taught: Fall 2018

  • Preparation for Qualifying Exam | BBS 602

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    This course seeks to help prospective scientists in the biological and medical sciences communicate their work effectively, in writing, graphics, and oral presentations. The course teaches how to prepare a research paper using words, statistics, and figures; how to present science to a lay audience; how to write a grant proposal; and how to present orally to scientific peers.

    Course Director: Morgan Thompson

    Semester Offered: Fall 

    Last Taught: Fall 2018

  • Foundations in Biomedical Science | BBS 614

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Pathway to Graduate Study, Translational Science

    This problem-based course provides learning opportunities through exploration of multidisciplinary areas of contemporary biomedical research, and creates a forum for practice in the skills required for research.

    Course Directors: William Theurkauf, Jill Zitzewitz

    Semester Offered: Fall 

    Last Taught: Fall 2018

  • Cancer Biology | BBS 725

    Programs: Cancer Biology, Interdisciplinary

    This course will provide students with a rigorous and comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms that will underlie the genesis and progression of human cancers. It will build on the basic science knowledge acquired in the core curriculum and appreciation of the cancer as a disease obtained from the Tumor Pathology course. The salient topics to be covered include stem cells; oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes; tumor-host interactions, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis. A major theme of the course will be to integrate the biology of cancer with the clinical behavior of tumors.

    Course Directors: Arthur Mercurio, Michelle Kelliher

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Spring 2017

  • Principles of Light and Electron Microscopy | BBS 732

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    Principles and application of microscopy in biomedical research for graduate students at all levels. Demonstrations and laboratory exercises will be incorporated into some of the blocks of the instruction. This course is designed to teach the biologist how microscopes work and how to optimize image quality.

    Course Directors: Greenfield Sluder, David Grunwald

    Semester Offered: Spring, odd years

    Last Taught: Spring 2017

  • Human Genetics | BBS 736

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Translational Science

    This course focuses on the human genetic knowledge and concepts that underlie almost every aspect of human health, both in normal function and disease. We will cover chromosomal, single gene, and multifactorial disorders, including quantitative analysis of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, human cancer genetics, and recent developments in human genome research. Problem solving will involve clinical, molecular and statistical data. We hope to provide a framework for understanding a fast growing and highly technical field, and an appreciation of how current research impacts many aspects of medicine as well as biomedical research. This course follows the Medical School calendar; check with course coordinator regarding class schedule. 

    Course Director: John Landers

    Semester Offered: Fall

    Last Taught: Fall 2015

  • Mammalian Development and Stem Cells | BBS 737

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    The potential of stem cells in therapeutic applications has ignited a fiercely competitive field of research aimed at the isolation, maintenance and differentiation of stem cells into specific pathways of differentiation. The use of stem cells in clinical application, however, requires an understanding of the molecular and cellular and epigenetic events that transform pluripotent cells into differentiated ones. Mammalian embryogenesis can be conceived as a sequence of developmental decisions that result in progressive restriction in cell potency. Because all the cells of a future individual are derived from a single cell, the zygote, the differences between cell types are due to epigenetic events established as the embryo develops. The process for generating these epigenetic marks is equally important for embryogenesis as well as for stem cell research. In this course we will use the cellular and molecular mechanisms of mammalian development as a framework for understanding the origin and differentiation of multiple pluripotent cells and their role in stem cell research and human disease.

    Course Director: Jamie Rivera

    Semester Offered: Fall, even years

    Last Taught: Has not been taught within last two years

  • Eukaryotic Gene Expression | BBS 738

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    This course encompasses current topics in eukaryotic gene regulation including the discussion of current research articles. Within this context, we will also explore the role of epigenetic regulators in transcriptional control. Course goals include improving skills in reading, presenting, discussing, and critically analyzing research articles.

    Course Director: Craig Peterson

    Semester Offered: Spring, odd years

    Last Taught: Spring 2017

  • Introduction to Cellular Metabolism and Disease | BBS 748

    Programs: Interdisciplinary, Pathway to Graduate Study, Translational Science

    This intense 3-week course will expose students to a variety of topics related to cellular metabolism. The course will cover material ranging from foundational principles to current leading-edge research. The principles and mechanisms regulating metabolism will be explored from multiple perspectives, including biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, molecular biology and cell biology. 

    Course Director: Brian Lewis, Amy Walker

    Semester Offered: Fall

    Last Taught: Fall 2018

  • Molecular Biology of Cell Cycle | BBS 761

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    This course covers genetic, biochemical and cellular mechanisms of cell cycle control. Topics include genetic screens for cell cycle regulators; cell cycle checkpoints; cell cycle regulation of DNA replication and chromosome structure; and the cell cycle in development and cancer. 

    Course Director: Nicholas Rhind

    Semester Offered: Spring, odd years

    Last Taught: Spring 2018

  • Systems and Computational Biology | BBS 764

    Programs: Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Interdisciplinary

    This is a lecture and paper-discussion based course covering a broad range of topics in Systems Biology and Computational biology. 

    Course Director: Marian Walhout

    Semester Offered: Spring

    Last Taught: Spring 2018

  • Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology | BBS 787

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    Advanced course, lecture and discussion, recent information of stem cell biology, tissue regeneration, and potential therapeutics

    Course Directors: Yicktung (Tony) Ip, Craig Ceol

    Course Offered: Fall, odd years

    Last Taught: Has not been taught within past two years

  • RNA Biology Journal Club | BBS 801

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    A discussion of recent and classical papers covering various topics in RNA biology. Students will choose from a list of papers provided by course coordinators or from recent literature with approval from coordinators.

    Course Director: Victor Ambros

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Fall 2018

  • Current Topics in Aging | BBS 803

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    This is a journal club that meets every two weeks to discuss papers on aging and genomic stability. The topics will be mechanisms of aging; with a focus on genetics. The objectives are to cover a large number of papers that identify genes that act to promote or limit life span and theories of aging.

    Course Director: Heidi Tissenbaum

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Has not been taught within last two years

  • Student Research Seminar | BBS 812

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    This course offers students an opportunity to learn scientific information and presentation skills. Students are required to attend the weekly Interdisciplinary Graduate Program seminar series and to write a short critique on each seminar. The goal is for students to understand the important elements of a successful presentation including style, interaction and organization.

    Course Director: Yicktung (Tony) Ip

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Has not been taught within last two years

  • Educational Outreach to High Schools and Middle Schools | BBS 843

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    Middle and high school educational outreach coordinated through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, Worcester Pipeline, and Regional Science Resource Center. IGP coordinated activities include development of in-class presentations and experiments in collaboration with high school teachers, and one-on-one and small group mentoring of high school science students. The Worcester Pipeline Collaborative coordinates a range of programs with the Worcester Public Schools dedicated to educating and challenging underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students for success in the STEM professions. Course is not available to GSBS first-year students. Students need to make an appointment with the course coordinator to discuss outreach opportunities prior to the start of semester.

    Course Director William Theurkauf

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Fall 2015

  • Tutorial in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program | BBS 844

    Programs: Interdisciplinary

    Tutorial arranged with individual faculty.

    Course Director: Craig Peterson

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring

    Last Taught: Has not been taught within last two years

  • Laboratory Rotation | BBS 850

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    Laboratory rotations are defined periods of research experience under the direction of a faculty member. They are intended to familiarize the student with concepts and techniques in several areas of research and to assist the student in evaluating research laboratories and projects that might be developed into a dissertation project. The student will participate in an ongoing research project; gain familiarity with concepts underlying the research; acquire a working knowledge of techniques used in the research; and write a report and present an oral summary of the results of the research. 

    Course DirectorFaculty member in whose lab student is working

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

    Last Taught: Taught every Fall and Spring semester

  • Laboratory Rotation | BBS 851

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    Laboratory rotations are defined periods of research experience under the direction of a faculty member. They are intended to familiarize the student with concepts and techniques in several areas of research and to assist the student in evaluating research laboratories and projects that might be developed into a dissertation project. The student will participate in an ongoing research project; gain familiarity with concepts underlying the research; acquire a working knowledge of techniques used in the research; and write a report and present an oral summary of the results of the research. 

    Course DirectorFaculty member in whose lab student is working

    Semester Offered: Summer

    Last Taught: Taught every Summer

  • BBS Qualifying Exam | BBS 860

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    Students are required to register for this course in the fall semester of the academic year in which they are to pass their Qualifying Examination.

    Course Director: Mary Ellen Lane

    Semester Offered: Fall

    Last Taught: Taught every year 

  • BBS TRAC Meeting | BBS 865

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    All graduate students are required to have at least one Thesis Research Advisory Committee (TRAC) meeting each academic year. After passing their Qualifying Examination and selection of their TRAC, students are required to register for this course each fall semester until their Dissertation Advisory Committee is formed. 

    Course Director: Mary Ellen Lane

    Semester Offered: Fall

    Last Taught: Taught every year

  • Prequalifying Research | BBS 870

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    This course is for students who have selected a program and thesis advisor but who have not yet passed the Qualifying Examination. 

    Course Director: Student's thesis advisor

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

    Last Taught: Taught every semester

  • Thesis Research | BBS 900

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    Students register for Thesis Research fall term of year three of the program, after passing the Qualifying Exam.

    Course Director: Student's thesis advisor

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

    Last Taught: Taught every semester

  • Graduate Research | BBS 990

    Programs: Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cancer Biology, Immunology & Microbiology, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience, Translational Science

    Students register for Graduate Research fall term of year four in the PhD Program and will continue to register each semester until they complete all remaining requirements.

    Course Director: Student's thesis advisor

    Semester Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

    Last Taught: Taught every semester

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