Course Identification

An Overview of Molecular Biology- Adapted for young in biology

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Dan Michael

Course Schedule and Location

First Semester
Monday, 16:15 - 18:00, FGS, Rm C

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 0.00 points


Obligatory for students in the PhD Track for Medical Residents/Specialist MDs for 2 credit points.

All other Life Sciences students need an approval by the Board of Studies.

Credit will not be given to those who have taken courses in molecular biology or genetics before (including during BSc studies).

All brain-sciences students that did not do Biology in their B.Sc. are entitled to take this course for 2 credit points.


Optional: A preparation program will be offered following the first lecture in the course  (a program of 3x3 hours). These preparation sessions could be most relevant for those with no previous background in biology and/or chemistry. The dates of the preparation sessions will be communicated by e-mail to registered students. You may register for the preparation sessions by sending a mail: Those registered will receive teaching materials on a weekly basis.



Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Expected and Recommended

Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)

8 exercises

Evaluation Type


Scheduled date 1


Scheduled date 2


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



A. Regulation of gene expression

  1. An introduction: Early days of modern genetics, the "central dogma" in molecular biology; The dynamic structures of proteins and in particular enzymes; Protein specificity versus protein promiscuity;
  2. Regulation of gene expression: The regulation of gene expression at the DNA level including the relevancy of sequence-specific factors and various components of the transcriptional machineries, chromatin modifications, nucleosome positioning and chromatin remodeling;


B. The fundamentals of recombinant DNA ("Genetic Engineering")

  1. DNA cloning, modern biotechnology, the functional cloning of an oncogene
  2. Sequencing DNA and mining the information using basic bioinformatics tools: From the Sanger method to "next generations" sequencing methods; The role of these methods in advancing molecular biology; Basic concepts and examples for algorithms in molecular biology; Paralogs and orthologs.
  3. PCR: The invention of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), its principles and its most common applications; Ligation-independent cloning and additional advanced applications;
  4. Characterization of gene expression: Up-to date methodologies used for characterization of gene expression at the DNA, the chromatin, RNA and protein levels;
  5. Editing the genome using the CRISPR/Cas-derived tools.


C. Molecular Cell Biology

  1. The internal organization of the animal cell: Sub-cellular compartments, organelles and their functions. The membrane and membranal proteins; Differentiation, energy metabolism, major protein sorting pathways;
  2. The dynamic nature of intracellular processes: From extracellular signals to intracellular signaling cascades that often end at the transcriptional machineries; G-protein coupled receptors and receptor-tyrosine kinase ignited signaling; Signaling circuits, loops and regulatory networks of sequence specific transcription factors; The ubiquitin system and its roles in protein-protein interactions as well as degradation.


D. Reverse genetics, forward genetics, and epigenetics

  1. Reverse genetics - assigning functions to a gene of interest by genetic manipulations: The concept of an experimental hypothesis at the molecular level;  From over-expression of a gene product to silencing of gene expression in cells in culture and at the organism level: the tale of a tumor suppressor as an example;
  2. miRs: The molecular biology of micro-RNAs (miRs); Gene-therapy-like approaches using miRs ;
  3. The tools for manipulation of gene expression: Generating relevant expression vectors as well as expression systems and conditional expression; Knock-down of expression using siRNA and shRNA; Dissecting signaling pathways using knock-down tools; Genome editing using the CRISPR-derived tools. Knock-out of expression in the animal;
  4. "Forward genetics": From a phenotype to relevant genes: The role of shRNA, siRNA and CRISPR-derived libraries;
  5. Frontiers in molecular biology: Functional biology, genome research, the variome, epigenomes; DNA methylations, maps of histone modifications. Genome-wide approaches used to study epigenomes; Mapping and characterizing global events at the genome level which contribute to regulation of transcription or DNA replication.
  6. An introduction to "systems biology" (If time will permit- by an invited speaker).
  7. Reading 2 cutting-edge paper in molecular biology, one of which will be the exam paper.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Discuss a variety of topics in molecular biology including regulation of gene expression, recombinant DNA, genome editing, cell biology, signal transduction and genome-wide analysis.
  2. Differentiate between methodologies that enable ?forward? and ?reverse genetics?.
  3. Read most up-to date papers in molecular biology and interpret the data in them as well as critically review the data.
  4. Appreciate the process of generating hypothesis-driven molecular data.
  5. Design experiments in molecular biology in order to address a hypothesis of interest.

Reading List