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Committee on Genetics, Genomics & Systems Biology

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


  • Richard R. Hudson, Ecology & Evolution


  • Graeme Bell, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Joy Bergelson, Ecology & Evolution
  • Douglas K. Bishop, Radiation & Cellular Oncology
  • Nancy Jean Cox, Medicine
  • Jerry Coyne, Ecology & Evolution
  • Anna DiRienzo, Human Genetics
  • M. Eileen Dolan, Medicine
  • Wei Du, Ben May Department for Cancer Research
  • Martin Feder, Organismal Biology & Anatomy
  • Richard Fehon, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Edwin L. Ferguson, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • T. Conrad Gilliam, Human Genetics
  • Benjamin Glick, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Michael Glotzer, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Jean Greenberg, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Robert Grossman, Medicine
  • Robert Ho, Organismal Biology & Anatomy
  • Richard R. Hudson, Ecology & Evolution
  • Martin Kreitman, Ecology & Evolution
  • Stephen J. Kron, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Bruce T. Lahn, Human Genetics
  • Michelle M. LeBeau, Medicine
  • Manyuan Long, Ecology & Evolution
  • Rima McLeod, Ophthalmology & Visual Science
  • Elizabeth M. McNally, Medicine
  • Mary Sara McPeek, Statistics
  • Carole Ober, Human Genetics
  • Olufunmilayo Olopade, Medicine
  • Brian J. Popko, Neurology
  • Trevor Price, Ecology & Evolution
  • Victoria Prince, Organismal Biology & Anatomy
  • Jonathan Pritchard, Human Genetics
  • Molly Przeworski, Human Genetics
  • Ilaria Rebay, Ben May Department for Cancer Research
  • Carrie Rinker-Schaeffer, Surgery
  • Bernard Roizman, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Marsha Rosner, Ben May Department for Cancer Research
  • Lucia Rothman-Denes, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Janet D. Rowley, Medicine
  • Andrey Rzhetsky, Medicine
  • James A. Shapiro, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Ursula B. Storb, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Joseph W. Thornton, Ecology & Evolution
  • Kevin White, Human Genetics
  • Chung-I Wu, Ecology & Evolution

Associate Professors

  • Yoav Gilad, Human Genetics
  • Tong-Chuan He, Surgery
  • Akira Imamoto, Ben May Department for Cancer Research
  • Gayle K. Lamppa, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Jocelyn Malamy, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Laurens J. Mets, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Ivan Moskowtiz, Department of Pediatrics
  • Marcelo Nobrega, Human Genetics
  • Kenan Onel, Pediatrics
  • Abraham Palmer, Human Genetics
  • Urs Schmidt-Ott, Organismal Biology & Anatomy
  • Jonathan P. Staley, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Aaron Turkewitz, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology

Assistant Professors

  • David Biron, Physics
  • Yoav Gilad, Human Genetics
  • Mohan Gupta, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • James Holaska, Medicine
  • Sally Horne-Badovinac, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Richard Jones, Ben May Department for Cancer Research
  • David Kovar, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Edwin Munro, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Ilya Ruvinsky, Ecology & Evolution
  • Andrew Skol, Medicine

Emeritus Faculty

  • Rochelle Easton Esposito, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Wolfgang Epstein, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Robert Haselkorn, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Anthony Mahowald, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Mary Mahowald, Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Alvin Markovitz, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Samuel Refetoff, Medicine
  • Angelo Scanu, Medicine
  • Janice B. Spofford, Ecology & Evolution
  • Bernard Strauss, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology

The Committee on Genetics, Genomics & Systems Biology (GGSB) is an interdisciplinary degree-granting program that brings together biologists from over a dozen academic departments. The program is aimed at training Ph.D. scholars for careers as independent scientists in basic and applied biomedical research and education. The graduate program in Genetics, Genomics, & Systems Biology offers a program of basic study leading to Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics. The Ph.D. training program combines a foundation in modern genetic analysis with training in current methods for formulating and addressing biological questions in the context of complex systems. Such systems are studied in physiological, developmental and evolutionary contexts. The presence of both basic and clinical sciences in the Division of Biological Sciences enhances the Committee’s broad based interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. The Committee provides an exciting environment in which to pursue rigorous, high quality training with flexibility in designing programs to meet individual needs. The focus of GGSB is to train students to utilize sophisticated genetic analysis, genomics, modeling and systems level analysis of regulations networks in their own research program. Opportunities are available to study diverse areas of biology and genetics, including bioinformatics, developmental processes, gene structure and regulation, genetic recombination and mutation, chromosome mechanics, evolution, human disease, immunology, and other areas of modern genetics. Students receive broad training in these sub-disciplines, while specializing in one of them for their research career. The Committee’s goal is to provide an intellectually stimulating, collegial and supportive environment for students to progress smoothly from research training to research independence.

Core Classes and Electives

Graduate students in the Biological Sciences Division are required to take nine credits of coursework for the Ph.D. program. Each class is one credit.

  • 4 required courses in Genetics
  • 4 electives
  • 2 graded lab rotations for 1/2 credit each

In addition to the course requirements, students attend the Faculty Research Seminar Series (also referred to as "AllStars"), to acquaint themselves with the research community and potential mentors. All first year students in the Biological Sciences Division are required to attend a scientific ethics course.

Required Courses

  • Genetic Analysis of Model Organisms   PLUS
  • Genomics & Systems Biology    PLUS one of the following three courses:
  • Fundamentals of Molecular Biology OR Molecular Biology I OR Molecular Biology II

Students must then choose one of the following to satisfy their final course requirement:

  • Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution  OR
  • Principals of Population Genetics I  OR
  • Evolutionary Genomics  OR
  • Human Variation and Disease

The remaining four courses are chosen as elective courses from a host of courses offered in the Biological Sciences Division, the Department of Statistics and the Department of Computer Science. All elective courses are to be approved by an academic advisor. The curriculum and research training are designed to take full advantage of the strength of genetics, genomics & systems biology research at the University. The program sponsors a regular colloquium, an annual symposium on a chosen topic, a biweekly journal club, and a biweekly genetics of model organisms club.

Students undertake short research projects in at least two different laboratories before beginning their dissertation research.  The purpose of the rotation is to expose the student to different research environments, broaden his/her acquaintance with useful laboratory techniques, and introduce him/her to the conceptual framework of experimental design. The distribution of course offerings makes it difficult for students to undertake rotations in the autumn quarter of the first academic year. Therefore, rotations are performed in the winter or spring and summer quarters.  The winter and spring rotations last 10 weeks to coincide with the academic quarter. The summer rotation lasts 5 weeks, when the student is able to devote full-time to research. Students wishing to do a third rotation may do so during the second half of the summer quarter.



For information about applying to our graduate program, please visit our website at .

Genetics Courses

GENE 30400. Protein Fundamentals. 100 Units.

The course covers the physical‑chemical phenomena that define protein structure and function.  Topics include:  the principles of protein folding, molecular motion and molecular recognition; protein evolution, design and engineering; enzyme catalysis; regulation of protein function and molecular machines; proteomics and systems biology.  Workshop on X-ray Crystallography: The workshop is an addendum to Protein Fundamentals and is required for all BCMB students. This one week workshop will provide students with an intensive introduction to protein structure determination by x-ray crystallography. In addition to lectures, an extensive laboratory component will give students the opportunity to carry out protein crystallization, data collection (at Argonne), structure determination, refinement, model building and validation.

Instructor(s): Robert Keenan, Shohei Koide, Joseph Piccirilli     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): BCMB 30400,HGEN 30400,MGCB 30400

GENE 31000. Fundamentals of Molecular Biology. 100 Units.

This course covers the structure of genetic material, chromatin, replication, DNA repair and transcription, including its regulation, RNA processing, post-transcriptional regulation, and protein synthesis. Third- or fourth-year standing is required for undergraduates; any graduate student may enroll.

Instructor(s): U. Storb, J. Staley     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Basic knowledge of genetics and biochemistry
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 21208,BCMB 31000,MGCB 31000

GENE 31900. Introduction to Research. 100 Units.

Lectures on current research by departmental faculty and other invited speakers. A required course for all first-year graduate students

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter Quarters
Equivalent Course(s): MGCB 31900,BCMB 31900,DVBI 31900,HGEN 31900

GENE 34600. Introduction to Virology. 100 Units.

This class on animal viruses considers the major families of the viral kingdom with an emphasis on the molecular aspects of genome expression and virus-host interactions. Our goal is to provide students with solid appreciation of basic knowledge, as well as instruction on the frontiers of virus research.

Instructor(s): T. Golovkina, B. Roizman     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in the biological sciences and third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 25287,MICR 34600

GENE 35600. Principles of Population Genetics-1. 100 Units.

Examines the basic theoretical principles of population genetics, and their application to the study of variation and evolution in natural populations. Topics include selection, mutation, random genetic drift, quantitative genetics, molecular evolution and variation, the evolution of selfish genetic systems, and human evolution.

Instructor(s): R. Hudson     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ECEV 35600,EVOL 35600

GENE 47100. Intro Statistical Genetics. 100 Units.

This course focuses on genetic models for compex human disorders and quantitative traits. Topics covered also include linkage and linkage disequilibrium mapping and genetic models for complex traits, and the explicit and implicit assumptions of such models. Winter

Equivalent Course(s): HGEN 47100,BIOS 21216