Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

The major in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology offers programs for students interested in molecular biology; neurobiology; cell biology, genetics, and their applications to problems in cell and developmental biology; and various aspects of computational biology. Tracks concentrating in biotechnology and neurobiology offer interdisciplinary opportunities.

Students have the opportunity to carry out independent research, which may consist of laboratory or field work. Those who are particularly interested in research can elect either a standard B.S. degree or a B.S. degree with an intensive major, in which research occupies up to half of the senior year. Programs to study abroad that fulfill some MCDB requirements are available. The MCDB major provides excellent preparation for medical school and the health professions as well as for a wide range of professional careers in the biological sciences, biotechnology, law, conservation, and science writing.

Prospective majors and other students who would like a thorough introduction to biology should take the introductory sequence BIOL 101–104, which provides a solid foundation in modern biological science. These courses are prerequisite to all majors in the biological sciences; students who take them along with chemistry courses during the freshman year will have more flexible programs in later years. The sequence consists of the following half-term, half-credit courses:

  • BIOL 101, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • BIOL 102, Principles of Cell Biology and Membrane Physiology
  • BIOL 103, Genes and Development
  • BIOL 104, Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The department also offers courses with no college-level prerequisites that are intended for non–science majors:

  • MCDB 103, Cancer
  • MCDB 105, An Issues Approach to Biology
  • MCDB 106, Biology of Malaria, Lyme, and Other Vector-Borne Diseases
  • MCDB 123, Genes and Environment

In the fall, students should consult with their adviser or a faculty member in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department for advice on which courses to take. There will also be a meeting in the fall for freshmen interested in the major. For additional information, visit the departmental Web site.