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Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology

cell biology imageThe cell is the fundamental structural and functional unit of life. Within the last twenty years, tremendous progress has been made in our understanding of how cells and the components of cells interact within living organisms. This rapid accumulation of knowledge, which has been called a "biological revolution," has largely resulted from the unification of several disciplines-genetics, biochemistry, and biophysics-into a field which is appropriately called Cell and Molecular Biology. Cell and Molecular Biology is the study of what cells are, how they are put together, what makes them work, what makes them differ from each other, how they associate and interact, what goes wrong in disease states, and, ultimately, how to intervene in these processes in some beneficial way to correct disease states.

Today, Cell and Molecular Biology stands on the frontier of even greater understanding. It is an exciting and challenging field. It presents potentials for action that could affect the very structure of our society within the foreseeable future.

cell biology imageThe tremendous range of investigations pursued by cell and molecular biologists is too broad to be described here, but we can indicate some major themes in the current research. These include the problems of understanding cancer and regulation of cell proliferation; manipulating genetic material and developing potentially useful applications (now called genetic engineering); the molecular and cellular basis of all major physiological functions (including neurological); understanding the immune response and the basis of auto-immune disease; the molecular relations between viruses (such as HIV) and target host cells; and studying the chemical origins of reproducing macromolecules and the first life forms on the primitive Earth.

This discipline is supported at San Francisco State University by faculty in the Cell and Molecular biology program area, who bring together a number of special supporting strengths. Specialized training areas pursued by these faculty in obtaining their Ph.D. degrees and in their current research include molecular genetics and the study of gene expression, RNA processing, biochemistry, enzyme reactions in plant physiological mechanisms, cell ultrastructure and electron microscopy, developmental biology, signal transduction, cell behaviors and morphogenesis, immunology, chromatin and chromosome structure and function, protein localization in cells and intra/intercellular trafficking.

cell biology imageA goal of the major is to prepare students to be at the cutting edge in modern cell and molecular biology and to be fully prepared to be competitive in applications for entry into graduate degree programs, professional programs, or technical industrial jobs. Students who anticipate pursuing post-graduate studies are especially encouraged to consider undertaking an independent research project (BIOL 699). The faculty expect and encourage students to embrace the challenges and rigors of this program with enthusiasm and to be excited about becoming true scholars in the field of Cell and Molecular Biology. Students who elect this major should feel intellectually stimulated by the content of courses in the curriculum and eager to be repeatedly challenged in seeking integration of the course concepts and the generation of questions about the molecular mechanisms of how cells work. We believe that as you progress through the courses of this major you will develop a growing sense of pride and self-confidence in your abilities to understand the frontiers of knowledge of your field and to make contributions to expanding that knowledge in your own career.

For more info on the revised CMB degree description, read about the CMB REVISION.

REVISED CMB Degree Description as of Fall 2011  
Lower-Division Requirements (38-39 units)
BIOL 230
Introductory Biology I
BIOL 240
Introductory Biology II
CHEM 115
General Chemistry I
CHEM 215/216
General Chemistry II and Laboratory (3/2)
CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry I 3
MATH 226
Calculus I
PHYS 111/112
General Physics I and Lab
PHYS 121/122
General Physics II and Lab
One course selected from the following:
MATH 227
Calculus II
CSC 210
Introduction to Computer Programming
BIOL 458
Total lower-division requirements
Upper-Division Requirements (30 units)
BIOL 350
Cell Biology
BIOL 351
Experiments in Cell Biology and Molecular Biology
BIOL 355
BIOL 357
Molecular Genetics
CHEM 335
Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 349*
General Biochemistry
Electives upon advisement. At least one elective course must have an upper division laboratory component. Graduate level courses may be used upon advisement.
BIOL 356 Honors Genetics (2)  
BIOL 337 Evolution (3)  
BIOL 380
Comparative Embryology (3)
BIOL 382
Developmental Biology (3)

BIOL 401
General Microbiology (3)
BIOL 420
General Virology (3)  
BIOL 425
Emerging Diseases (3)
BIOL 435
Immunology (3)
BIOL 446
Microbial Genomics (4)
BIOL 525
Plant Physiology (3)
BIOL 630
Animal Physiology (3)
BIOL 638 Bioinformatics & Genome Annotation (4)  
BIOL 640
Cellular Neuroscience (3)
BIOL 699
Special Study (3)
CHEM 343
Biochemistry Laboratory (3)
Three to four units of credit in graduate courses numbered BIOL 725-744, which accept qualified seniors, may be substituted with the advisor's approval.
Total upper-division requirements
Total for major

 *Students may take CHEM 340 (3) and CHEM 341 (3) in lieu of CHEM 349 upon advisement.  Students who plan to study for a Ph.D. should complete at least two semesters of calculus and one semester of physical chemistry.

The Bachelor of Science: Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology (C&MB) provides an excellent preparation for entry into advanced degree programs. These include Ph.D. programs in cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical chemistry; M.D. and veterinary medicine doctoral programs, and graduate programs in genetic counseling.

With the Bachelor of Science: Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology, direct job opportunities are extensive, particularly in the Bay Area. Graduates with a bachelor's degree have been successful in finding employment as laboratory technicians or research associates in university, medical school, government agency, and biotechnology industry research labs. Specific lab techniques and instrumentation skills available in the C&MB coursework give C&MB students a competitive edge for such research-related jobs.

B.S. in Biology: Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology Degree Description (2010-2011 version pdf)

Recommended 4-year course plan for B.S. in Biology, Concentration in Cell & Molecular Biology (2010 - 2011 version)


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