Upper Division MCB Courses

Check Fall and Spring Courses for current offerings.

Please note: Syllabi change from semester to semester and therefore, please only use them as a guide and not a definitive list of topics covered by a course in future semesters.

Course tutoring: The department maintains a list of private tutors that can be found here. Occasionally the department also hires a few undergraduate tutors for select MCB courses, interested students should contact Katie Carson (Assistant Director of Student Services) to inquire about opportunities and timelines. 

MCB C100A: Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life (4 units; Syllabus; Cross-listed with Chem C130)
Prerequisites: Chemistry 3A, Math 1A, and Biology 1A. Recommended: Chemistry 3B (may be taken concurrently).
Thermodynamic and kinetic concepts applied to understanding the chemistry and structure of biomolecules (proteins, DNA, and RNA). Molecular distributions, reaction kinetics, enzyme kinetics. Bioenergetics, energy transduction, and motor proteins. Electrochemical potential, membranes, and ion channels. (F,Sp)

MCB 100B: Biochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisite: MCB C100A
This course surveys cellular metabolism with a focus on the underlying bioenergetics, mechanisms, and chemistry. Lectures will cover major principles in the biochemistry of metabolism and also highlight selected topics including signaling, transport, metabolic engineering, and human diseases related to metabolic dysfunction. The course is designed for majors in the biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics and development, or immunology emphases. (Sp)

MCB 102: Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Chemistry 3B 
Credit Restriction: Students will receive no credit for 102 after taking 100B or C100A/Chemistry C130 or Chemistry 135.
A comprehensive survey of the fundamentals of biological chemistry, including the properties of intermediary metabolites, the structure and function of biological macromolecules, the logic of metabolic pathways (both degradative and biosynthetic) and the molecular basis of genetics and gene expression. (F, Sp, Su)

MCB C103: Bacterial Pathogenesis (3 units; Syllabus; cross-listed with PH C102 and PMB C103 )
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Chemistry 3B
This course for upper division and graduate students will explore the molecular and cellular basis of microbial pathogenesis. The course will focus on model microbial systems which illustrate mechanisms of pathogenesis. Most of the emphasis will be on bacterial pathogens of mammals, but there will be some discussion of viral and protozoan pathogens. There will be an emphasis on experimental approaches. The course will also include some aspects of bacterial genetics and physiology, immune response to infection, and the cell biology of host-parasite interactions. Also listed as Public Health C102 and Plant Biology C103. (Sp)

MCB 104: Genetics, Genomics & Cell Biology (4 units; Syllabus Fall / Spring)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A
This course will introduce students to key concepts in genetic analysis, eukaryotic cell biology, and state-of-the-art approaches in genomic medicine. Lectures will highlight basic knowledge of cellular processes with the basis for human diseases, particularly cancer. Prerequisite courses will have introduced students to the concepts of cells, the central dogma of molecular biology, and gene regulation. Emphasis in this course will be on eukaryotic cell processes, including cellular organization, dynamics, and signaling. (F,Sp)

MCB 110: Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB C100A 
Molecular biology and biochemical processes of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and their viruses. Structure of genes and chromosomes. Mechanisms of DNA replication, repair and recombination. Regulation of gene expression. Transcription, RNA processing, RNA interference. Translation, protein folding and modification.  Intracellular trafficking and subcellular compartmentalization. (F,Sp)

MCB C110L: General Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 110 (may be taken concurrently).
Experimental techniques of biochemistry and molecular biology, designed to accompany the lectures in 100B and 110. (F,Sp) 

MCB C112: General Microbiology (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A
This course will explore the molecular bases for physiological and biochemical diversity among members of the two major domains, Bacteria and Archaea. The ecological significance and evolutionary origins of this diversity will be discussed. Molecular, genetic, and structure-function analyses of microbial cell cycles, adaptive responses, metabolic capability, and macromolecular syntheses will be emphasized. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C112. (F,Su)

MCB C112L: General Microbiology Laboratory (2 units; Syllabus Fall / Spring)
Prerequisites: MCB C112 (may be taken concurrently). 
Experimental techniques of microbiology designed to accompany the lecture in C112 and C148. The primary emphasis in the laboratory will be on the cultivation and physiological and genetic characterization of bacteria. Laboratory exercises will include the observation, enrichment, and isolation of bacteria from selected environments. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C112L. (F,Sp)

MCB C114: Introduction to Comparative Virology (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Biology 1B, Chemistry 3A (Chemistry 3A may be taken concurrently). Recommended: MCB c100A or 102 (may be taken concurrently)
Viruses will be considered as infectious agents of bacteria, plants, and animals (vertebrates and invertebrates). Several families of viruses will be compared with respect to biochemical, structural and morphological properties, and strategies of infection and replication. Also listed as Plant Biology C114 and Environ Sci, Policy, and Management C138. (Sp)  

MCB C116: Microbial Diversity (3 units; syllabus)
Prerequisites: Chemistry 3B
This course for upper-division and graduate students will broadly survey myriad types of microbial organisms, both procaryote and eucaryote, using a phylogenetic framework to organize the concept of “biodiversity.” Emphasis will be on the evolutionary development of the many biochemical themes, how they mold our biosphere, and the organisms that affect the global biochemistry. Molecular mechanisms that occur in different lineages will be compared and contrasted to illustrate fundamental biological strategies. Graduate students additionally should enroll in C216, Microbial Diversity Workshop. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C116. (Sp)

MCB C117: Advanced Plant Biochemistry (4 units; syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or PLANTBI 135
Students will build on the central metabolic pathways to learn about plant-specific metabolism from a more mechanistic perspective, including photosynthesis, regulation of sugar and starch metabolism, chloroplast-based pathways of inorganic nutrient (nitrogen, sulfur) processing, N2 fixing in free-living and symbiotic bacteria, polyunsaturated fatty acid and oil biosynthesis and accumulation, secondary metabolism, cell-wall structure and biosynthesis. Instruction will focus on a research-based approach, including retrieving and researching the primary literature, and understanding experimental design in modern plant biochemistry. (Sp)

MCB 120: Therapeutics Discovery and Development (4 units; syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCELLBI 104 (can be taken concurrently) and MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130 or MCELLBI 102.
This class is designed to introduce students to crucial concepts that underlie the discovery and development of therapeutic modalities. It will cover questions of target discovery and validation; basic properties of therapeutic modalities, such as small molecules, designer proteins, or genome engineering approaches; the design and execution of chemical screens; the medicinal chemistry, pharmacodynamics and -kinetics that is required for drug development; and the steps needed to introduce a new modality into the clinic. Lectures are based on a combination of textbook readings and primary literature and summarized through case studies that highlight critical aspects of drug discovery and development. (F)

MCB C130: Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Upper Division Standing, Biology 1A, MCB 102 or MCB C100a (102 or c100A may be taken concurrently)
This course will investigate a wide range of topics in cell biology, focusing on modern and classic experimental approaches that have provided important insights, and the relevance of their findings to understanding human health and disease. We will emphasize the importance of quantitative understanding in research topics that are current areas of discovery. We aim to convey an understanding of how cellular structure and function arise as a result of the properties of macromolecules and how understanding the behavior of molecules is needed to explain how cells and organisms operate. This understanding thus also explains what happens when normal cellular functions are impacted, leading to cellular dysfunction and disease. Also listed as Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology C130. (Sp)

MCB 132: Biology of Human Cancer (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or MCB C100A, Recommended: MCB 104 and/or MCB 110 (may be taken concurrently)
The course is designed for students interested in learning about the molecular and cell biology of cancer and how this knowledge is being applied to the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of cancer. Topics covered include tumor pathology and epidemiology; tumor viruses and oncogenes; intracellular signaling; tumor suppressors; multi-step carcinogenesis and tumor progression; genetic instability in cancer; tumor-host interactions; invasion and metastasis; tumor immunology; cancer therapy. (F)

MCB 133L: Cell Biology & Physiology Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A
Experimental analyses of central problems in cell biology and physiology using modern techniques, including DNA cloning and protein biochemistry, fluorescence microscopy of the cytoskeleton and organelles, DNA transfection and cell cycle analysis of cultured mammalian cells, RNA interference and drug treatments to analyze ion channel function in cell contractility and intracellular signaling, and somatosensation. (F, Sp)

MCB C134: Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics (3 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 104 or 140
This course focuses on the structure, functions, and dynamics of eukaryotic chromosomes and their organization within cell nuclei. All life on earth relies on genetic information, which is encoded within nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Most organisms have DNA-based genomes; bacterial and archaeal genomes typically comprise a single circular DNA molecule, while the genomes of most eukaryotes are divided into a variable number of linear DNA molecules. These contiguous DNA strands, along with the associated proteins and other components that contribute to their organization and function, are known as “chromosomes.”. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C134. (Sp)

MCB 135A: Molecular Endocrinology (3 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: Biology 1A. Recommended: MCB 102 or MCB C100A (may be taken concurrently)
Molecular mechanisms by which hormones elicit specific responses and regulate gene expression; hormone-receptor interaction; synthesis, transport and targeting of hormones, growth factors and receptors. (F)

MCB 136: Physiology (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Biology 1B, Physics 8A, Physics 8B
Credit option: Students will receive no credit for 136 after INTEGBI 132.
Principles of mammalian (primarily human) physiology emphasizing physical, chemical, molecular and cellular bases of functional biology. The following topics will be covered: cellular and membrane ion and nonelectrolyte transport; cell and endocrine regulation; autonomic nervous system regulation; skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle; cardiovascular physiology; respiration; renal physiology; gastrointestinal physiology. Discussion section led by Graduate Student Instructor will review material covered in lecture. (F,Sp)

MCB 137L: Physical Biology of the Cell (3 units; Syllabus)
Biology is being revolutionized by new experimental techniques that have made it possible to measure the inner workings of molecules, cells and multicellular organisms with unprecedented precision. The objective of this course is to explore this deluge of quantitative data through the use of biological numeracy. We will develop theoretical models that make precise predictions about biological phenomena. These predictions will be tested through the hands-on analysis of experimental data and by performing numerical simulations using Matlab. A laptop is required for this course, but no previous programming experience is required. (Sp) Garcia

MCB 140: General Genetics (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A 
An in depth introduction to genes, their sexual and asexual transmission in individuals and populations, and gene regulation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Gene manipulation by recombination, molecular cloning and genome editing is presented in contexts ranging from fundamental mechanisms of chromosome biology to applications in development, aging and disease. Human genetic variation and its quantitative evaluation are illuminated. Non-Mendelian and epigenetic modes of inheritance of transposable elements, prions and chromatin states are paired with discussions of groundbreaking technology rewriting the rules of how the genome is analyzed, with attention to the ethical considerations ranging from the history of eugenics to modern controversies. (F, Sp)

MCB 140L: Genetics Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: MCB 104 or MCB 140 (may be taken concurrently) 
Experimental techniques in classical and molecular genetics. (Sp)

MCB 141: Developmental Biology (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or MCB C100A. Recommended: MCB 104 or MCB 140 (may be taken concurrently)
An introduction to principles and processes of embryonic and post-embryonic development, stressing mechanisms of cell and tissue interactions, morphogenesis and regulation of gene expression. (Sp)

MCB 143: Evolution of Genomes, Cells and Development (3 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Biology 1B, MCB 102 or MCB C100A. Recommended: MCB 104 or MCB 140 (may be taken concurrently)
Students will receive no credit for 143 after taking IB 163.
This course is intended for upper-division undergraduates seeking an interactive course based on modern concepts in evolution and comparative genomics. The course will emphasize the contribution of molecular evolution to a series of seminar events in life's history: origin of life; origin of cells; origin of eukaryotes; origin of multicellularity; evolution of animal development; human origins. (F)

MCB C145: Genomics (4 units)
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or MCB 110
In-depth introduction to genomics, including genome sequencing; bioinformatics; sequence annotation and analysis; complex trait mapping; DNA microarrays and their uses; proteomics; structural genomics. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C145. (currently not offered)

MCB C146: Data Science for Biology (3 units)
Prerequisites: Bioengineering 142, Computer Science 61A, or equivalent ability to write programs in Java, Perl, C, or C++; 100, 102, or equivalent; or consent of instructor. 
Instruction and discussion of topics in genomics and computational biology. Working from evolutionary concepts, the course will cover principles and application of molecular sequence comparison, genome sequencing and functional annotation, and phylogenetic analysis. Also listed as Bioengineering C146 and Plant & Microbial Biology C146. (Sp24 but not regularly offered)

MCB C148: Microbial Genomics and Genetics (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: Biology 1A 
Course emphasizes bacterial and archaeal genetics and comparative genomics. Genetics and genomic methods used to dissect metabolic and development processes in bacteria, archaea, and selected microbial eukaryotes. Genetic mechanisms integrated with genomic information to address integration and diversity of microbial processes. Introduction to the use of computational tools for a comparative analysis of microbial genomes and determining relationships among bacteria, archaea, and microbial eukaryotes. Also listed as Plant & Microbial Biology C148. (Sp) 

MCB 149: The Human Genome (3 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or MCB c100A, MCB 104 or MCB 140, MCB 110
This is an upper division course for majors in MCB with an interest in an in-depth exploration of the forces that shape the human genome and the human population, as well as the ways that human genetic information can be used in medicine, ancestry and forensics. The course will combine lectures and discussion of research papers. (F)

MCB 150: Molecular Immunology (4 units; Syllabus; Schedule) 
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or MCB C100A
Fundamentals of immunology with emphasis on biochemical and molecular approaches to study of the immune system and its application in medicine and biotechnology. Topics covered include description of the immune system, antibody and T-cell receptor structure and function, genes of the immunoglobulin superfamily, cells and molecular mediators that regulate the immune response, allergy, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, tissue and organ transplants, and tumor immunology. (F,Sp) 

MCB 150L: Immunology Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: MCB 150 (may be taken concurrently)
Experimental techniques in mammalian molecular biology and cellular immunology. Molecular techniques covered include PCR and recombinant DNA procedures such as gene cloning, gene transfer, DNA sequencing, Southern blot, and restriction mapping. Immunological techniques covered include cell culture and monoclonal antibody production, flow cytometry, ELISA, immunoprecipitation, and western blot. (F,Sp)

MCB 153: Molecular Medicine (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, MCB 102 or MCB C100A
The overarching goal of MCB 153 is to inform our MCB majors how therapeutics are developed and created. After completing this course, students will have a firm understanding on the mechanism of action of several therapies used to fight disease. The course will cover areas such as the discovery and refinement of antibiotics, anti-virals, cancer therapies, CRISPR0-based therapies. Furthermore, MCB 153 will delve into disease areas not covered in other courses, such as autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disease. Lastly, MCB 153 will implement a “case study” for each topic displaying real world challenges and solutions to treating complex diseases. (F)

MCB 168: Sensory Neuroscience (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: MCB 160 or Biology 1A, Physics 8A, Physics 8B, and consent of Instructor.
Sensory cells monitor the environment to trigger behaviors required to feed, avoid danger and thrive. This interactive course combines lectures with instructor-led discussions of research from the scientific literature. Our goals are two fold. First, we will present current concepts in sensory neurobiology by illustrating how different sensory inputs govern homeostasis and behavior. Second, though discussions of scientific data, the course will foster critical thinking skills, and provide practice in drawing logical, evidence-based conclusions.  (F)

MCB 170L: Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: MCB 102 or c100A
This laboratory course for majors in Chemical Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is designed to have students learn the theory and practicality of modern laboratory science. The first and last third of the course will focus on Molecular Biology and Biochemistry where the students will learn basic skills and investigate the role of Kinesin 5 in Mitosis. In the middle Cell Biology portion of the course you will learn about cell structure and the cytoskeleton with an emphasis on microscopy techniques. (Su)

MCB N184: Intro to CRISPR: From Basic Biology to Genome Editing Technology (1 unit; Syllabus)  
Prerequisites: Biology 1A or equivalent
This 3 week course will address topics in genome editing and CRISPR-Cas9 research, including basic and enhanced CRISPR methods, cellular repair mechanisms, regulation of gene expression, bioinformatics, applications to various organisms, and bioethics. Students will learn from a collection of local experts about ongoing campus research, and gain the background knowledge to understand current publications and applications of genome editing. (Su)

MCB N184L: Intro to CRISPR Lab: Fro Bacis Biology to Genome Editing Technology (1 unit; Syllabus)  
Prerequisites: Biology 1A/1AL or equivalent course. MCELLBI N184 (may be taken concurrently)
This 3 week lab course will focus on applications of CRISPR technology as a platform for genome editing and functional genomics. The program will consist of a hands-on laboratory experience demonstrating how CRISPR systems work in situ, as well as use genome editing both in vitro and in vivo. Students will utilize fundamental molecular biology techniques and learn additional protocols specific to genome editing. Two bioinformatics based lessons will cover the essential programs and analyses used in the genome editing field. This course requires concurrent enrollment in a lecture component (MCELLBI N184), where lecturers will address topics in genome editing and CRISPR-Cas9 research. (Su)

NEU 100A (Formerly known as MCB 160): Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: Biology 1A, Physics 8B (Physics 8B may be taken concurrently)
This course is a comprehensive introductory survey of cellular and molecular neuroscience, including cellular neurophysiology, membrane biophysics, ion channel function, synaptic transmission and plasticity, sensory transduction, and nervous system development. We will discuss topics at the level of molecules to cells to simple circuits. (F) 

NEU 100B (Formerly known as MCB 161): Circuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: NEU 100A or MCB 160
This course is a comprehensive survey of circuits and systems neuroscience, including how brain function underlies behavior. Students will learn how brain circuits are organized, how the brain processes sensory information, how it plans and executes movement, and how it stores information during learning. We will discuss brain rhythms and sleep, and brain systems for emotion, reward, attention, and other higher functions. The major focus is on the mammalian brain, but we will also discuss principles from other organisms. By the end of the course, students will have a strong understanding of the biological and computational principles for neural circuit function, and the neurobiological basis of behavior. (Sp)

NEU 165 (Formerly known as MCB 165): Neurobiology of Disease (3 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: NEU 100A or MCB 160 
The course will give insights into the cellular mechanisms underlying neurological diseases. The course is divided into three main sections: neurodevelopmental disorders, psychiatric disorders, and neurodegeneration. We will explore each of these topics at the molecular and cellular levels, reviewing what is currently known and the areas of active research. In lecture we will refer to figures from the research literature, and you will be reading and discussing articles in the discussion section. Reading articles critically is an important skill for all biologists and a great way to learn how research is conducted. By the end, you will have a good background in neurological diseases and a better ability to understand primary literature. (Sp)

NEU 171L (Formerly known as MCB 160L): Neurobiology Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus) 
Prerequisites: BIOLOGY 1A, BIOLOGY 1AL; PHYSICS 8A, PHYSICS 8B; NEU 100A or equivalent (may be taken concurrently). ***Students interested in taking this course who do not meet the prerequisite requirement should consult with the instructor on the first day of class.
In this course you will be introduced to a variety of techniques that are commonly used to study the nervous system including electrophysiology, optogenetics, cell biology, imaging, genetics, and anatomy. Experiments will be done on cells and invertebrates, and will cover molecular channel properties, neuronal cell physiology, development, and behavior. We hope that by analyzing the data from these experiments you will gain a better understanding of key principles in neuroscience. In addition, you will learn how to design experiments, troubleshoot experiments, analyze your data, and present your findings in written reports. (Fa)

NEU 173L (Formerly known as MCB 163L): Neuroanatomy Laboratory (4 units; Syllabus)
Prerequisites: BIOLOGY 1A and BIOLOGY 1AL; PHYSICS 8A and PHYSICS 8B; NEU 100A, NEU 100B, or equivalent (can be taken concurrently).
This course provides you with a basic understanding of the principles of brain structures and function. Our emphasis is more integrative and broadly-based than in most neuroanatomy courses. In addition to the fundamental structural biology of the central and autonomic nervous systems, we will introduce a variety of techniques that are commonly used to study the nervous system including immunohistochemistry, MRI, and fluorescence imaging. We will address topics in developmental neurobiology, the sensory, motor, and limbic systems, as well as aspects of neurochemistry and neuropathology. You will also learn how to design experiments, troubleshoot experiments, analyze your data, and present your findings in written reports. (Sp)