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Molecules to Medicine Block

Molecules to Medicine is a 9 week course in the Fall semester that covers an integrated approach to cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and human genetics presented in a context that emphasizes clinical issues.

Block Directors:
Michael Yeager PhD
Matthew Taylor, MD, PhD

Carolina Jensen (303-724-2070)

Course goals (PDF with Objectives​)
  • Explain how the normal human cell is constructed and how it functions.

  • Describe the basic principles of DNA structure, synthesis and repair.​

  • Describe RNA structure, major types of RNA and their function, synthesis of mRNA, and mechanisms of gene regulation.

  • Discuss amino acids, protein primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure, and principles of translation and translational control, and basic principles of enzyme function and kinetics, and mechanisms of protein degradation.

  • Comprehend the basic principles of human inheritance, the molecular basis of inherited disease, and methods to search for human disease genes.

  • Comprehend the basic principles of imprinting, cytogenetics, preparing and interpreting a pedigree, genetic regulation of sex determination, and describe the major forms of inherited disease encountered clinically.

  • Describe and discuss the major structural compartments, organelles, and cytoskeletal components in the cell and their function.

  • Explain the basic principles of intracellular trafficking, and intracellular signaling.

  • Provide a basic understanding of membrane structure and function, and basic principles of cell physiology, including cell composition and volume regulation, membrane potential, gated channels, and action potentials.

  • Describe how the cells in the body form major types of functional tissue, including epithelium, connective tissue, and muscle, and describe normal histology of human tissues.

  • Describe the underlying molecular and cellular perturbations of certain human diseases and how these human diseases present clinically.

  • Understand the basic principles of bioenergetics that govern catabolic and metabolic reactions that occur within cells.

  • Understand basic techniques in molecular biology: PCR, restriction enzyme digestion of DNA, gel electrophoreisis on nucleic acids and protein and their application for Southern & Northern blotting, Sanger, and NexGen genomic sequencing for the diagnosis of human disease.

  • Understand how the cell cycle is orchestrated and regulated through actions of specific cyclins, cyclin-dependent kinases, inhibitors of kinases, checkpoints, and how acquired or inherited alterations of cell cycle regulation lead to cancer.

  • Understand basic mechanism of programmed cell death, including apoptosis and autophagy.

  • Explain how human genetic variation relates to measured phenotypic variation in health, disease, and differential response to medications.

  • Understand and apply genetic counseling and related ethical practices in clinical genetic situations.