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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Department of Biology

The Department of Biology offers undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training in basic biology, and in a variety of biological fields of specialization. The quantitative aspects of biology, including molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology, represent the core of the program. Students in the department are encouraged to acquire a solid background in the physical sciences not only to master the applications of mathematics, physics, and chemistry to biology, but also to develop an integrated scientific perspective. The various programs, which emphasize practical experimentation, combine a minimum of formal laboratory exercises with ample opportunities for research work both in project-oriented laboratory subjects and in the department's research laboratories. Students at all levels are encouraged to acquire familiarity with advanced research techniques and to participate in seminar activities.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor of Science in Biology/Course 7
[see degree chart]

The curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science in Biology is designed to prepare students for a professional career in the area of the biological sciences. Graduates of this program are well prepared for positions in industrial or research institutes. However, experience has shown that many graduates choose to continue their education at a graduate school in order to obtain a PhD in an area such as biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, biophysics, cell biology, or physiology, followed by research or teaching in one of those areas. The undergraduate curriculum is also excellent preparation for students who wish to continue their education toward an MD, particularly if their career plans include laboratory investigations bearing on human disease.

Bachelor of Science in Biology/Course 7-A
[see degree chart]

Course 7-A is designed for students who wish to obtain a background in biology as preparation for careers without laboratory research. Course 7-A has the same core requirements as Course 7, but does not require a 30-unit laboratory subject within its Restricted Electives.

Students are encouraged to use their elective subjects for more advanced subjects in their field and for additional study in basic and advanced subjects offered in various departments.

Additional information regarding undergraduate academic programs and research opportunities may be obtained from the Biology Education Office, Room 68-120, 617-253-4718, undergradbio@mit.edu.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Molecular Biology/Course 6-7

The Department of Biology jointly offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Molecular Biology with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. A detailed description of the requirements for this degree program can be found under Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs and Minors in Part 3.

Minor in Biology

The requirements for a Minor in Biology are as follows:

5.12 Organic Chemistry I
7.03   Genetics
7.05   General Biochemistry
    Two additional subjects from:
7.02J or 20.109; 7.06, 7.08J, 7.20J, 7.21, 7.22, 7.23, 7.26, 7.27, 7.28, 7.29J, 7.30AJ and 7.30BJ, 7.31, 7.32J, 7.33, 7.36, 7.37J, 7.38, and 7.49J.

For a general description of the minor program, see Undergraduate Education in Part 1.

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Graduate Study

The Department of Biology offers graduate work leading to the Doctor of Philosophy. Study may be pursued in the following fields of specialization.

Biochemistry is the study of enzyme catalysis, and the chemical properties of proteins, carbohydrates, complex lipids, nucleic acids, and protein-nucleic acid complexes. Methods of analysis include gene cloning, the use of genetic variants, synthetic substrates, and transition state analogs. Specific areas of study include the chemistry of oncogenes, mechanism of RNA splicing, analysis of cytoskeletal proteins, chemistry of blood coagulation, mechanism of ion pumps and photoreceptors, and the role of complex carbohydrates in cell surface function and protein compartmentalization.

Biophysical chemistry and molecular structure focuses on studies of the principles that underlie the folding, stability, molecular design, and assembly of proteins and nucleic acids. Analysis of molecular structure includes X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance. Specific areas of concentration include the study of genetic strategies for enhancing the stability, ligand affinity, and catalytic efficiency of proteins and enzymes; pathways of protein folding; protein-nucleic acid recognition; and antigen-antibody interactions. Studies of more complex systems include the control of viral and cytoskeletal assembly.

Cell biology refers to molecular biological, genetic, and cell biological analysis of eukaryotic cells. The specific areas of research include the organization, expression, and regulation of eukaryotic genomes; structure and function of membranes and cytoskeletons; molecular basis of cellular structure, organization, proliferation, and movement; differentiation and functions of specialized cell types; and the molecular basis of various diseases.

Chemistry/Biology interface research area pervades the fields of biomedicine, cell and developmental biology, bioimaging, structural biology, enzymology, and synthetic biology. These areas of investigation are well represented at MIT, where a common theme is the application of rigorous physical and chemical methods to the molecular dissection of biological pathways, reactions, and circuitry. The Chemistry/Biology Interface program at MIT provides a training mechanism that maintains academic depth within the core areas of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, but also provides disciplinary breadth. The Chemistry/Biology Interface is designed to bring together faculty and students from the Departments of Chemistry, Biology, and Biological Engineering, spanning the Schools of Science and Engineering.

Computational and systems biology is a recent area of emphasis in the department offered jointly with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Division of Biological Engineering as part of the Computational and Systems Biology Initiative (CSBi). Computational and systems biology combines biology, engineering, and computer science in a multidisciplinary approach to the systematic analysis of complex biological phenomena. Equal emphasis is placed on computational and experimental research and on molecular and systematic views of biological function. One major role of CSBi research is to develop methods and devices that can measure, in a systematic and precise manner, the biochemical properties of large numbers of biomolecules in cells, tissues, and whole organisms. A second major CSBi goal is to build mathematical models of biological systems that link mechanistic understanding of molecular function to systems-wide knowledge of networks and interactions. Like models in mature engineering disciplines, CSBi models will capture empirical knowledge as it accumulates and will have the ability to predict experimental outcomes.

Developmental biology refers to the cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms responsible for generating the diversity of cell types that arise during development, and controlling the ways in which cells interact to produce organ systems and whole organisms. These problems are studied using vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. Specific topics of interest include the regulation of gene expression, cell interactions, cell lineages, cell migrations, sex determination, stem cells, and cloning.

Genetics/microbiology includes genetic analyses of fundamental problems in bacteria, bacteriophage, viruses, and yeast. Areas of specific interest include protein secretion, DNA transposition, protein turnover, DNA synthesis and repair, mechanisms of genetic recombination, and electron transport in mitochondria. More complex problems under study are cellular responses to stress, plant-bacterial interactions, high resolution structure-function studies of proteins and RNAs, and the control circuits regulating gene expression. A new area of study is the application of high resolution molecular techniques to problems in human genetics.

Immunology is the study of the genetic, cellular, and molecular mechanisms underlying the exquisite sensitivity and specificity of the immune system. The immunology group studies the chemistry of antigen-antibody and antigen-T cell receptor interactions, using the tools of molecular biology as well as classical immunological approaches. Of particular interest is the role of idiotypic and cellular interactions in the regulation of the immune system as studied by organ culture, hybridoma technology, and the behavior of transgenic mice.

Neurobiology is an area of recent emphasis in the department. The subject in general neurobiology is supplemented by a seminar series and an interlaboratory journal club. Students admitted to the Biology graduate program can join the Molecular and Cellular Neurosciences Program, offering access to participating faculty and neuroscience coursework across campus. The emphasis is on neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, and neurological and psychiatric disease, primarily using cell-biological, electrophysiological, imaging, and genetic approaches. Current areas of research interest include the molecular determinants of neuronal diversity and shape; the formation and function of synapses and neural networks; and the genetic and molecular determinants of memory storage, sensory transduction, and neuropsychiatric disease.

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Study

In the Department of Biology, the Master of Science is not a prerequisite for a program of study leading to the doctorate.

The department modifies the General Institute Requirements for admission to graduate study as follows: 18.01, 18.02 Calculus; one year of college physics; 5.12 Organic Chemistry I; professional subjects including general biochemistry, genetics, and physical chemistry. However, students may make up some deficiencies over the course of their graduate work.

Doctor of Philosophy

The General Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy are listed under Graduate Education in Part 1. In the departmental program, each graduate student is expected to acquire a solid background in four fundamental areas of biology: biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. Most students take subjects in these areas during the first year. All students are required to take three subjects: 7.52 Genetics for Graduate Students, 7.51 Principles of Biochemical Analysis, and 7.50 Method and Logic in Molecular Biology. This last subject is a seminar designed specifically to introduce graduate students to in-depth discussion and analysis of topics in molecular biology.

Students have a choice of several elective subjects, which have been designed for the entering graduate student. One of the elective subjects must focus on computational and quantitative approaches to biology. Typically students choose between the following three subjects: 7.57 Quantitative Biology for Graduate Students, 7.81 Systems Biology, or 7.91 Foundations of Computational and Systems Biology. In addition to providing a strong formal background in biology, the first-year program serves to familiarize the students with faculty and students in all parts of the department.

Joint Program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Course 7-W

MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution administer a joint program in biological oceanography leading to a jointly awarded Doctor of Philosophy. The program is described at the end of Part 3.

Master of Engineering in Computer Science and Molecular Biology/ Course 6-7P

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science jointly offers a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and Molecular Biology with the Department of Biology (Course 7). A detailed description of the list of requirements for this degree program may be found under Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in Part 3.

Financial Support

Students who are accepted into the graduate program are provided with support from departmental training grants, departmental funds for teaching assistants, and research grants. In addition, some students bring NSF and other competitive fellowships. Through these sources, full tuition plus a stipend for living expenses are provided.

Students are encouraged to apply for outside fellowships for which they are eligible, such as the National Science Foundation Fellowships. Information regarding graduate student fellowships is available at most colleges from the career planning office.

Inquiries

Additional information regarding graduate academic programs, research activities, admissions, financial aid, and assistantships may be obtained from the Biology Education Office, Room 68-120, 617-253-3717, gradbio@mit.edu.

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Alan Davis Grossman, PhD
Praecis Professor of Biology
Director, Scientific Operations, Building 68
Department Head

Jacqueline Lees, PhD
Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research
Professor of Biology
Associate Director, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Associate Department Head

Peter Reddien, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Associate Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Associate Department Head

Professors

Angelika Amon, PhD
Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Tania Baker, PhD
E. C. Whitehead Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
MacVicar Faculty Fellow

David Bartel, PhD
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Stephen Bell, PhD
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Christopher Burge, PhD
Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Jianzhu Chen, PhD
Professor of Biology
Ivan R. Cottrell Professor of Immunology

Sallie W. Chisholm, PhD
Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Biology

Martha Constantine-Paton, PhD
Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Professsor of Biology

Catherine L. Drennan, PhD
Professor of Chemistry and Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Gerald R. Fink, PhD
American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Frank Gertler, PhD
Professor of Biology

Leonard Pershing Guarente, PhD
Novartis Professor of Biology

H. Robert Horvitz, PhD
David H. Koch Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

David Evan Housman, PhD
Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research

Richard Olding Hynes, PhD
Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute

Barbara Imperiali, PhD
Class of 1922 Professor of Biology and Chemistry
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Tyler E. Jacks, PhD
David H. Koch Professor of Biology
Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute
Director, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD
Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Chris Kaiser, PhD
Professor of Biology

Jonathan Alan King, PhD
Professor of Molecular Biology without Tenure (Retired)

Monty Krieger, PhD
Professor of Biology
Whitehead Professor of Molecular Genetics
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute

Eric S. Lander, PhD
Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Founding Director, Broad Institute

Douglas Lauffenburger, PhD
Ford Professor of Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Biology
Head, Biological Engineering Department

Susan L. Lindquist, PhD
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Troy Littleton, MD, PhD
Professor of Biology

Harvey Franklin Lodish, PhD
Professor of Biology and Bioengineering
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Terry L. Orr-Weaver, PhD
Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

David Conrad Page, MD
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Director, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Mary Lou Pardue, PhD
Boris Magasanik Professor of Biology

Hidde Ploegh, PhD
Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

William G. Quinn, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology

Uttam L. RajBhandary, PhD
Lester Wolfe Professor of Molecular Biology

Alexander Rich, MD
William Thompson Sedgwick Professor of Biophysics

David Sabatini, MD, PhD
Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Leona Samson, PhD
American Cancer Society Research Professor
Professor of Toxicology, Biological Engineering, and Biology

Robert Thomas Sauer, PhD
Salvador E. Luria Professor of Biology

Phillip Allen Sharp, PhD
Professor of Biology
Institute Professor

Anthony John Sinskey, ScD
Professor of Microbiology and Health Sciences and Technology

Hazel Louise Sive, PhD
Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Frank Solomon, PhD
Professor of Biology

Lisa Amelia Steiner, MD
Professor of Immunology

JoAnne Stubbe, PhD
Novartis Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Biology

Susumu Tonegawa, PhD
Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Director, RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics

Graham Charles Walker, PhD
American Cancer Society Research Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Robert Allen Weinberg, PhD
Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Matthew Wilson, PhD
Professor of Biology
Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience
Associate Director, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Associate Department Head for Education, Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Michael B. Yaffe, PHD
Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
Associate Department Head for Education, Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute

Richard Allen Young, PhD
Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Associate Professors

Laurie A. Boyer, PhD
Irvin and Helen Sizer Career Development Associate Professor of Biology

Iain Cheeseman, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology without Tenure
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Wendy Gilbert, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology

Michael Hemann, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Amy Keating, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology

Dennis Kim, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology

Michael Laub, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Elly Nedivi, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurobiology
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Aviv Regev, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Core Member, Broad Institute

Jeroen P. J. Saeij, PhD
Robert A. Swanson Career Development Associate Professor of Life Sciences
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Thomas Schwartz, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology

Matthew G. Vander Heiden, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Assistant Professors

Paul Chang, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology

Mary Gehring, PhD
Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute

Piyush Gupta, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Member, Whitehead Institute

Adam Martin, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology

Jing-Ke Weng, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute

Omer Yilmaz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology

Adjunct Professor

David Altshuler, MD, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Biology
Core Member, Broad Institute
Director, Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute
Deputy Director and Chief Academic Officer, Broad Institute

Technical Instructors

Vanessa Cheung, PhD
Nelly Cruz, PhD
Leah Okumura, PhD
Diviya Sinha, PhD
Ayce Yesilaltay, PhD

Instructor

Stuart Levine, PhD
Director, BioMicro Center

Mandana Sassanfar, PhD
Director, Science and Outreach

Research Staff

Research Scientists

Ryan Abo, PhD
Lourdes M. Aleman, PhD
Vincent Butty, PhD
Angeliki Chalkiadaki, PhD
Hung-Chun Chang, PhD
Zie (James) Chen, PhD
Wan Young Choi, PhD
Huiming Ding, PhD
Sanjay D'Souza, PhD
Robert Grant, PhD
Noriko Kobayashi, PhD
Caroline Koehrer, PhD
Kazuhiko Kurosawa, PhD
Catherine Lee, PhD
Brenda Minesinger, PhD
Shmulik Motola, PhD
Nicolas Paquin, PhD
Jon Penterman, PhD
Jens Plassmeier, PhD
John F. W. Quimby, PhD
T. Sambandan, PhD
Janet L. Smith, PhD
Eric Spear, PhD
Mohan Viswanathan, PhD
Robert P. Weinberg, PhD
Matthew Youngman, PhD
Kun Xie, PhD

Professors Emeriti

David Baltimore, PhD
Professor of Biology, Emeritus

Gene Brown, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

Arnold Lester Demain, PhD
Professor of Industrial Microbiology, Emeritus

Herman Nathaniel Eisen, MD
Professor of Immunology, Emeritus

Maurice Sanford Fox, PhD
Professor of Molecular Biology, Emeritus

Malcolm Lawrence Gefter, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

Nancy Haven Hopkins, PhD
Amgen Professor of Biology, Emerita

Irving M. London, MD
Grover M. Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, Emeritus
Professor of Biology and Medicine, Emeritus

Sheldon Penman, PhD
Professor of Cell Biology, Emeritus

Phillips Wesley Robbins, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

Robert Daniel Rosenberg, MD, PhD
Whitehead Professor of Biology, Emeritus

Paul Reinhard Schimmel, PhD
John D. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Emeritus

Ethan Royal Signer, PhD
Professor of Biology, Emeritus

 

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