Petition to Substitute MCB Lab Course

Students may petition to substitute the lab course with equivalent knowledge and units obtained through independent research experience (such as 199 or H196 research), as determined by the Head Faculty Advisor of their major emphasis. Careful consideration and discussion with your faculty advisor is important when making the decision whether to use independent research to substitute the lab, as MCB labs expose students to many biological approaches not always encountered during these research projects.

In order to obtain a substitution, you need to demonstrate that you understand the majority of the material taught in the MCB lab course, preferably by hands-on experience.  This requires endorsement from your research advisor (the lab PI) and approval from the MCB lab course instructor and the head faculty advisor of your emphasis. You must fulfill the requirements for the lab required in your emphasis (e.g. If you are a Neurobiology student, but only fulfill the immunology lab requirements, you cannot use this to substitute MCB 160L.)


  1. Review the emphasis specific requirements below.
  2. Write a concise (<1 page) justification statement for your request. This statement should describe your research, mentioning the specific techniques and approaches that are covered in the lab class, as well as other relevant techniques not necessarily covered in the course.
  3. Bring the statement to the UAO and meet with a staff advisor, who will give you a lab substitution form and a copy of your current MCB progress report.
  4. Obtain signature from your lab principal investigator (PI) endorsing your statement.
  5. Bring above documents and lab notebook to the instructor of the lab course to discuss how your lab experiences and the course requirements compare. Obtain his/her signature to approve substitution.
  6. Take the above documents and lab notebook to the Head Faculty Advisor for final approval. (Note, some Head Faculty Advisors are also instructors for upper division laboratory courses, and may be able to evaluate your request in both capacities).
  7. Return the signed Substitution Form to the UAO in 3060 VLSB.


Last day of the penultimate semester before graduating, that is:
If graduating in Spring or Summer: LAST DAY OF PRECEDING FALL SEMESTER

General Requirements

  • At least 2 semesters of research in the same laboratory and 3-4 upper division research units, participation in Honors program is strongly preferred.
  • A lab notebook documenting the experiments performed.
  • Participation and presentation in lab group meetings and journal clubs, which should develop the student’s ability to understand and explain her/his research.
  • Students who cannot provide a coherent description of their research will not be allowed the substitution.
  • A written report may be required by the head faculty advisor. If required, this should be a written scientific document describing the research performed, which should demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze and discuss their research in writing. For H196B students, the thesis satisfies this requirement. For other students, a research report1, pre-approved by the student’s research P.I., must be turned in to the head faculty advisor at least 5 days before the last day of finals of the student’s final research semester. If a satisfactory report is not turned in, the substitution approval will be revoked.

1 For specific format and page requirements please consult with the head faculty advisor. Review the MCB thesis guidelines for additional help.

BMB: MCB c110L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • DNA and/or RNA isolation and manipulation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and reverse-transcription-PCR (RT-PCR), agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA cloning (restriction, ligation, transformation of yeast and/or bacteria)
  • Protein expression and purification, subcellular fractionation, protein gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), immunoblotting, protein assays, enzyme assays and kinetic analyses, protein crystallization and X-ray crystallography (very basic), protein structure-function analyses
  • Fluorescence microscopy with living and fixed cells, subcellular protein localization analyses, genetic manipulation and phenotypic testing, and/or an alternative microscopy methodology.

CDB: MCB 133L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Cell culture or cell manipulation, such as transfection and immuno-fluorescence
  • Microscopy – ideally fluorescence microscopy and a contrast enhancement technique such as phase or DIC optics
  • Molecular biology, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR
  • Biochemistry – such as SDS-PAGE, subcellular fractionation, or Western blot

GGD: MCB 140L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Reverse or forward genetic manipulation, such as RNAi, antisense-oligomer mediated gene knockdown, chemical genetics, chemical or transposon-mediated genetic screens, transgenesis, breeding experiments, genetic mapping. Experience with a genetic model system (yeast, mouse, corn, zebrafish, Arabidopsis, Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus tropicalis, etc.) is desired but not required. Experience with genome resources and databases preferred.
  • Phenotypic analysis, such as in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, microscopic imaging, cell growth analyses, behavioral testing, etc.
  • Molecular biology/biochemistry, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR, protein isolation, SDS-PAGE, subcellular fractionation, or Western blot.

IMM: MCB 150L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Cell culture/Mouse experiments.  Growing and maintaining animal or plant cells and cell growth analyses.  Maintaining mouse colony, breeding, genotyping.  Doing experiments in mice with immunizations or infections followed by tissue harvesting. 
  • Immunoassays.   ELISAs, Western blot, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, microscopic imaging, immunaffinity columns. 
  • Molecular biology/biochemistry, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR, protein isolation, Southern blotting, restriction mapping, HPLC, DNA sequencing.

NEU: MCB 160L/163L Substitution Requirements

Experience with at least 4 of the following:

  • Physiological or optical measurement of neural activity or signaling, including intracellular or extracellular recording, and activity- or calcium-based indicators
  • Morphological analysis of neurons, circuits, or subcellular compartments, including immunohistochemistry, tract tracing, optical analysis of structure or dynamics using genetic or synthetic indicators
  • Genetic manipulation or profiling of cells (e.g., viral vectors, RNAi), or reverse or forward genetics related to neurobiology
  • Application of molecular biology and biochemistry techniques to understand neural functions (e.g., PCR, western blotting, immunoprecipitation, gene cloning)
  • Quantitative analysis of animal behavior
  • Computational approaches to neurobiology (neurons, genes, neural networks)