Molecular and Cellular Biology

Are you curious …

  • how cells move?
  • why we need to eat salt?
  • what is “personalized medicine”?
  • how cells build an eye?
  • why drugs like thalidomide cause birth defects – and given they’re so dangerous, why we use them to treat cancer and leprosy?
  • whether the bacteria in our guts tell us how to behave?
  • how one searches through the DNA sequence from cells – all 3 billion base pairs - to find a single mutation that causes cancer?
  • why water doesn’t soak through our skin into our bodies when we shower?
  • how our nerves perceive sunshine or chili peppers?

The Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) concentration addresses these kinds of questions, and more. It explores how molecules drive the formation and function of cells and organs, and how those processes go awry in diseases like cancer or conditions like deafness. Students in MCB will acquire an understanding of scientific logic and approaches as they explore a wide range of contemporary subjects, spanning biochemistry, cell biology, genomics, systems biology, developmental biology, immunology, drug design, cancer biology, molecular medicine, the microbiome, global health and infectious disease. MCB is therefore ideally suited for students who wish to study molecular and cellular processes at the heart of modern biology and disease.

MCB encourages students to experience research first hand by joining the laboratory of a MCB-affiliated faculty member. This experience exposes concentrators to the thrills and challenges of scientific discovery at the cutting edge. We consider the senior thesis to be the capstone academic experience, and the concentration supports seniors to make thesis writing an enriching experience  (see also fun).

Students who graduate from the MCB concentration will be informed citizens who can understand and evaluate the impact of new research discoveries in the biological and biomedical sciences, discoveries that are unfolding at a breathtaking and accelerating pace. Graduates will stand poised to pursue a wide range of careers, including biological and medical research, public and global health, science policy, law and intellectual property, business, education, and science writing.