BCHM411/BMED811 - Advanced Molecular Biology

Course Description:

This course focuses on advanced molecular biology as it applies to the human genome and human diseases. The course will build from concepts learned in BCHM 218 and BCHM 313 and will extend to current literature and review articles. Topics that will be covered include:Genome variation (SNPs, copy number), evolution, Genome wide association studies (GWAS), Haplotypes, Next Generation Sequencing, Precision Medicine, Direct to consumer genetic testing, microRNAs, Genome editing (CRISPR/Cas9), epigenetics, Chromatin regulation, stem cells, cancer stem cells.  Also, a series of skills based assignments related to various topics will be interspersed throughout the term. 

Course Objectives:
Learning objectives for BCHM 411/811 include gaining the ability to:

Understand the physical and functional properties of the human genome 

Use Bioinformatic tools to identify human variation and assess their significance

Understand how genome variation is assessed and contributes to human disease and therapies

Interprete the significance of SNPs and cancer mutations

Understand how microRNA’s control gene expression

Understand the applications of genome editing tools to research and therapy

Understand how epigenetics can control gene expression

Know the role of stem cells in development and disease

Anaylse and interprete contriversial scientific literature and present findings from advanced molecular biology-related research articles to your peers


Textbook: Although we will not ask students to purchase a textbook for this course, some introductory materials will be found in "Molecular Biology of the Gene" 7th Edition by Watson, Baker, Bell, Gann, Levine and Losick.  Also, review articles on each topic will posted in the course learning events sections where appropriate. 

Evaluation Scheme

Assignments (x4) .... 10, 10, 10, 10% Total 40%

Mid-term exam…………………………...20%

Final exam……………………………….  40%
Grading Method:
Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale

Grade  Numerical Course Average (Range)

A+            90-100

A              85-89

A-             80-84

B+            77-79

B              73-76

B-             70-72

C+            67-69

C              63-66

C-             60-62

D+            57-59

D              53-56

D-             50-52

F              49 and below


Although the lectures will provide the bulk of the course content, we want students to take an active role in their learning. Your approach to this course should be more than just memorizing molecular biological elements and concepts, but should strive to understand how experiments designed to comprehend how and why they are done in a particular way. Students are expected to read the assigned readings and are encouraged to ask any questions on any aspect about the lectures. Research into other papers/books or websites will help with your studying, and more importantly help strengthen your independent learning skills. We also encourage interaction and discussion of the material with classmates and this will be important for the preparation and delivery of a group presentation during the term. Also, an additional tutorial session will also be scheduled prior to the final exam to provide an additional venue for asking questions of faculty members and peers.

Academic Integrity: Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see www.academicintegrity.org). These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of thecommunity will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see the Senate Report on Principles and Priorities: http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/policies/senateandtrustees/principlespriorities.html).
Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity
and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on
academic integrity is available in the Arts and Science Calendar (see Academic Regulation 1
1), on the Arts and Science website (see http://www.queensu.ca/artsci/academics/undergraduate/academic-integrity), and from the instructor of this course. Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.


Christopher R. Mueller

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, contact Course Coordinator:

Dr. Christopher R. Mueller


Last Updated: Nov, 20 2017