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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

The School of Graduate Studies

Molecular and Cellular Biology Standard Curriculum

Year 1

Fall semester

Graduate Biochemistry (required)

Molecular and Cellular Biology I (required)


MCB Seminar Series (required)

MCB Work-In-Progress (required) 


Spring semester

Molecular and Cellular Biology II (required)

Ethics in Research (required)

Scientific Writing (strongly encouraged)

Graduate Statistics (optional)


MCB Seminar Series (required)

MCB Work-In-Progress (required)

Rotation I (Jan-March)

Rotation II (April-June)


Year 2


Fall semester

Advanced course

(Examples: Proteomics and Genomics, Molecular Genetics, Advanced Immunology, Lipids and Molecular Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Diseases, Translational Cancer, Advanced Tutorial in Molecular and Cellular Biology; not all courses available every year)


MCB Seminar Series (required)

MCB Work-In-Progress (required)

Thesis Research


Spring semester

Advanced course  (see examples above)


MCB Seminar Series  (required)

MCB Work-In-Progress (required)

Thesis Research 


Subsequent years


Fall and Spring semesters

MCB Seminar Series (required)

MCB Work-In-Progress (required)

Thesis Research



Molecular and Cellular Biology 1

Time: Offered annually in the fall semester. Each week there are two 2-hour lectures and one 2-hour discussion period.

This course provides the molecular foundation for students in the MCB Doctoral Program. Topics include DNA chemistry, replication and repair; transcriptional machinery in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; regulation of transcription; RNA processing; protein synthesis; gene regulation in prokaryotes; chromatin structure, function and remodeling; genetics in the age of genomics; epigenetic regulation of gene expression in higher eukaryotes; molecular immunology; site-specific recombination; lambda; VDJ and class switching; gene conversion; and hypermutation. Discussion sessions constitute an important part of the course and introduce students to the critical reading of research papers. Course instructors will assign 1-2 research articles the week before the corresponding lectures that students should read thoroughly before the session and be prepared to discuss. The level of participation will be noted. Exam questions are taken from material covered in both lectures and discussion sessions. Essay questions are designed to test integrative knowledge rather than knowledge of simple, factual details. Students should be prepared to propose experiments that will test a given hypothesis or idea. Reference text: It is recommended that students purchase the latest edition of either Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts, et al. (Garland Publishing Inc.), or Molecular Cell Biology, Lodish, et al, (W. H. Freeman and Co.).

Required course for MCB students. Major elective for NBS students.

6.000 Credit Hours


Molecular and Cellular Biology 2

Time: Offered annually in the spring semester. Each week there are two 1.5-hour lectures and one 1.5-hour journal discussion period.

This graduate-level course is designed to provide students in the MCB Doctoral Program with a broad background in cellular biology. The course is divided into three sections: cell structure/function, cell signaling, and cell development. The lectures cover topics and experimental approaches used in cell biology from the textbooks and more current literature. The purpose of the discussion groups is to reinforce the information and concepts presented during the lectures. Students critically review at least one representative publication. The paper, which is chosen by the instructor, is available one week before the class meeting. Each student is responsible for all aspects of the paper during the discussion session. Students are selected at random to describe the purpose of the experiment, to present the methods and results, and to critically evaluate the paper. There is an exam at the end of each section of the course; questions may have different formats, including but not restricted to short answer, essay, and experimental design. The discussion sections are equally a source of exam material as are the lectures. Students are evaluated on their contributions to the discussions as well as on their performance on exams. Reference text: It is recommended that students purchase the latest edition of either Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts, et al. (Garland Publishing Inc.), or Molecular Cell Biology, Lodish, et al, (W. H. Freeman and Co.).

Required course for MCB students. Major elective for NBS students.

6.000 Credit Hours


Graduate Biochemistry

Course director: Greg Gick

Time: Offered annually in the fall semester. Course meets three times per week for 2 hours per session.

Faculty: Gick, Rushbrook, Feinman, Carty, Quadros, and Gintzler

Topics include proteins, protein purification and analysis, enzymes and kinetics, bioenergetics, carbohydrate chemistry, lipid metabolism, amino-acid metabolism, nucleotide metabolism, metabolic integration, and hormone signaling. Grades are based on the results of four written examinations and one oral presentation. The topic of the oral presentation is selected at random by the instructor from eight assigned topics, all of which must be prepared. There is no required text; individual lecturers suggest a written source of information to supplement the lecture material.

Required course for MCB and NBS students. MCB students normally take the course in the first year.

Lipid and Molecular Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Disease

Course director: Xian-Cheng Jiang, PhD.

Faculty: Jiang, Feinnman, Hussain, Patan, Wagner, Siddiqui, Quadros, Wadgaonkar, Banerji, LaRosa, Chaqour, Carleton.


Lipid metabolism and heart disease:

Nutrition and Cardiovascular disease; Cholesteral reverse transport; Lipoprotein metabolism; Cholesterol homeostasis; Atherosclerosis; Phospholipid metabolism



Molecular mechanisms of intussusceptive microvascular growth (IMG) in health and disease; Stem cells, heart disease, and regenerative therapies


Mechanisms of cardiovascular disease:

Jak and Stat signaling pathway in cardiovascular disease; Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease; TNF-alpha signaling and cardiovascular disease, Metabolic syndromes: Very low LDL- good or bad?; Extracellular matrix and cardiovascular disease


Microarray in cardiovascular research:

Cardiovascular genomics and proteomics


Responsible conduct in Research . (Ethics in Research)

Time: spring semester

This course is designed to acquaint PhD and MD/PhD candidates in the sciences with the ethical and legal principles and practices that will guide the manner in which they conduct and report scientific research now and in the future. The goals of the course are to provide an ethical framework from which to identify and consider dilemmas arising in the course of their or other’s research, to create an appreciation of the importance and value of ethical principles to science, and to become sensitive to the ethical and legal implications and questions that surface in the pursuit of new and untried scientific discoveries. To assure a better fusion of science and ethics, the course is taught by a team consisting of an attorney/ethicist and a scientist. The ethicist, Professor Herb, provides the continuity and consistency of material while the scientist, a faculty member, brings the scientific perspective, methodology, and context. Experts in areas such as patent law may be invited as guest lecturers. The course is planned to begin at a point that would be most logical—the beginning of a research project—and proceed along the continuum of scientific research: how a project is developed and structured; if and how it gets funded; who gets credit; what, where, and how it gets published; what can go wrong; what the implications of the research may be to human subjects and animal subjects; and what the implications of the research itself may be in a socioeconomic context. (Example: the Human Genome Project.) Instruction is both didactic and interactive. For each session, students are expected to read the assignment, reflect, and write a one-page paper on the material and be prepared to engage in in-depth discussions. The cultural diversity of the student body is not only acknowledged, but special efforts are made to explain differing cultural values.

1.000 Credit Hours

Required course for all students in the School of Graduate Studies.


Graduate Statistics

Time: spring semester

Number of credits: 2

Course director : Jay Weedon, Ph.D., Scientific Computing Center. Call X7424 for appointments.

Grades & assessments: Grading will be pass/fail. There will be no formal exams; grades will be based on attendance, participation, and completion of assignments.

Books: There is no textbook. If you’re interested in owning a reference text you may want to consider one of the following (the library doesn’t own these but you can inspect my copies):

Wardlaw AC (2000) Practical Statistics for Experimental Biologists, 2nd. ed. NY: Wiley. $28.

Sokal RR & Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd ed. NY: WH Freeman. $93.

Bailey NTJ (1995) Statistical Methods in Biology, 3rd ed. Cambridge UK: Cambridge UP. $42.

Content: General methodological issues; the how, why & when of statistics; SPSS software.



Part I: Methodology


  1. Independent & dependent variables; hypothetico-deductive vs. inductive methods. Nuisance variables & confounding; covariates. Causality vs. association. Types of data. Minimizing experimental variability. Reliability vs. accuracy. Making comparisons. Missing data & selection bias. Censored data. Randomization. Blocking & matching. Dose-response effects; categorizing scales. Numerical precision. Researcher & subject expectation.
  2. Samples & populations: replication of experiments. Between-subjects vs. within-subjects factors; split-plot, crossover designs. Interactions among factors. Data normalization; area under curve;. Single-subject designs. Ensuring adequate experimental manipulation. Regression to the mean. Importance of planning an experiment, including an analysis plan; data snooping; planned vs. post-hoc comparisons.


Part II: Statistical Core


  1. Data matrix. Distributions. Descriptive statistics. Definition & measurement of “experimental error”. Introduction to SPSS software.
  2. Inferential methods: parameters vs. statistics. Hypothesis testing. The meaning of a p-value. Type I & type II errors. Effect size. Statistical vs. scientific significance. Power analysis and sample size. Equivalence studies.


Part III: Statistical Toolbox


  1. Comparison of means: t-tests; Wilcoxon tests; analysis of variance; Kruskal-Wallis test.
  2. Analysis of multiple independent variables: Factorial ANOVA; mixed models.
  3. Correlation & linear regression. Analysis of dichotomous & count data. Analysis of censored data.
  4. Analysis of two-way frequency tables: Chi-square test; Fisher’s exact test.


Part IV: Student Research


  1. Methodological discussion of students’ ongoing studies.


See also courses listed under NBS

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