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Molecular and Cell Biology

Cell biologists are interested in a broad range of problems relating to the structure and activities of microbial, plant, and animal cells. Among the many problems of fundamental importance investigated by cell biologists are: how cells respond to external stimuli, such as hormones; cell motility; secretion and uptake of substances; how cancer cells differ from normal cells; the assembly of cellular elements; cell-cell interactions; and the fine structure of cells. The experimental approaches include microscopy (electron and optical), molecular genetics, biochemistry, and biophysics. Cell culture techniques are an important aspect of research in cell biology. Yeast, insect, avian, plant, and mammalian cells are under active study at Cornell. Faculty in several units are carrying out research in cell biology. These faculty members are distributed among several departments in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.

Students interested in the Molecular and Cell Biology concentration should enroll in the more rigorous courses in physical sciences and be well prepared in mathematics. Genetics and biochemistry are of prime importance in cell biology. In fact, there is no sharp division between biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology. Cell biology may be considered as the application of biochemical and genetic approaches to the solution of problems at the cellular level.

The Molecular and Cell Biology concentration requires a cell biology survey course, an extensive laboratory course in biochemistry, and at least seven credits chosen from a list of advanced courses ranging from aspects of development through plant anatomy. Students are also encouraged to gain an appreciation for experimental cell biology by carrying out independent research projects. Although it is not required, students are also encouraged to take a physical chemistry course sequence.

Cell biology is a dynamic field. Students graduating with a concentration in molecular and cell biology at Cornell usually continue their education in graduate, medical, or veterinary schools. The demand for research scientists interested in cell biology is high, not only in academic institutions but also in industrial and government laboratories as well. Technical positions for bachelor’s-level graduates are also prevalent.

 

Molecular and Cell Biology Requirements


Students electing this concentration should be sure to complete CHEM 2070-CHEM 2080 or CHEM 2150 during their freshman year. Students concentrating in Molecular and Cell Biology should not take CHEM 1570, Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry.  Also note that our concentrators are required to complete an organic chemistry laboratory course (either CHEM 2510 or CHEM 3010).

At least 7 additional credits of courses that have a cell biological or molecular biological orientation:


The 7 additional hours should include at least two 2-credit or above courses from the following list:

  • Any BIOMG course at the 3000 level or above (Note: graduate-level BIOMG courses are acceptable with permission of your advisor)
  • BIOG 4990 (or the equivalent in other departments) can be used for up to three of these credits, with the approval of the advisor, if the research has a substantial molecular or cell biology component.

Related courses in other departments:

Note:


* It is recommended that when selecting freshman-level core biology choice courses that one of them be BIOMG 1350 - Introductory Biology: Cell and Developmental Biology.