MCDB 425 - Biotechnology: From Concepts to Technologies
Section: 001
Term: WN 2009
Subject: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)
Department: LSA Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Requirements & Distribution:
Enforced Prerequisites:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:

Biotechnology is an integral part of our daily lives. Its applications include, for example, the production and cultivation of transgenic plants with various agricultural traits, the development of cellular expression systems for the production of pharmaceuticals and natural products, and the development of medical kits and biosensors. Biotechnological advances rely on basic cellular, molecular, biochemical and biophysical research and the direct impact of biotechnology on our lives clearly shapes public awareness and acceptance of new scientific discoveries and research. Students in the biological sciences should be educated to better understand biotechnology and its relation to basic science so that they can learn to appreciate its role modern life.

Here is a broad definition of Biotechnology as formulated by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992):

"Biotechnology means any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use."

This definition groups together a wide range of organisms and processes that have been used over the past 10,000 years in many useful applications and products. While we still use the same organisms and adhere to the same basic principles that guided ancient civilizations in fermenting beer, wine and dairy products, today's significant developments in recombinant DNA technology and extensive understanding of basic cellular processes are allowing us to use biotechnology as a tool for producing a wide range of sophisticated products and processes. Such products include the use of bacterial and yeast cells for the expression of enzymes and antibiotics, the production of transgenic plants that are resistant to insects and viruses, the use of mammalian cell cultures to produce pharmaceutical products, and even the use of DNA molecules and enzymatic reactions as components of futuristic molecular computers. Some of the topics to be discussed include the following: ancient biotechnology; genes, proteins and traits; methods in molecular biology; organisms used in biotechnology; agricultural biotechnology; transformation methods and transgenic plants; genes and traits in agricultural biotechnology; edible vaccines; cloning and genetic transformation of farm animals; pharmaceutical products and viral vectors; biological sensors; enzyme technology; bio-energy; bio-computing; and molecular machines.

Intended audience: All biology-related concentrators and pre-med students with a strong interes in understanding the concepts of modern biotechnology.

Course Requirements: Midterm and final that count as 50% of final grade. Students also required choose between two different types of written assignments that constitute the remaining 50%: a paper that critically analyzes a biotechnology-related research paper on a topic of their choice, provided that it has not been discussed in class; or alternatively, a paper that suggest a new biotechnological application or product based on a literature survey of research in the field.

MCDB 425 - Biotechnology: From Concepts to Technologies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
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