BIO403: Biotechnology

Course Syllabus for "BIO403: Biotechnology"

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Biotechnology is the application of biology and biological concepts to science and engineering.  It is the crossroad of the biological sciences with other major disciplines of science, from organic chemistry to mechanical engineering.  The earliest applications of biotechnology involve people of ancient civilizations using organisms to create bread and wine.  The discovery of the Penicillium mold to combat infection is another famous example, as its production involved a specially designed fermentation process using microorganisms.  Nowadays, scientists use almost all aspects of biology in their applications, from DNA to protein to cellular organelles.  Living organisms, especially microorganisms, are thought of as biochemical machinery, able to be edited and changed to create new purposes.  We could program them to create insulin for diabetes patients or to produce fuel for our cars.  Biotechnology is nearly limitless in its applications. As biotechnology is a very diverse topic, this course will introduce you to the major concepts shared by different fields and also explain some of the current major areas of biotechnology.  We will discuss genetic engineering of plants and animals, as well as the current major medical, environmental, and agricultural applications of each.  There are also a variety of topics that we will cover after this, from nanobiotechnology to environmental biotechnology.  As each field has its own science and terminology beyond biology, there are many new concepts and terms to be learned, which can cause some difficulty for students, so be patient and don’t become overwhelmed.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify and describe the fields of biotechnology.
  • Compare and contrast forward and reverse genetics and the way they influence biodiversity.
  • Compare and contrast systemic studies of the genome, transcriptome, and proteome.
  • Explain how genome projects are performed, and discuss the completion and the information processing in these projects.
  • Describe and explain the principles of existing gene therapies.
  • Design strategies that support genetic counseling.
  • Explain and analyze DNA fingerprints, and compare DNA fingerprints to non-DNA biometrics.
  • Describe and compare bioremediation technologies in air, water, and soil.
  • Design strategies for generating genetically modified organisms, and discuss ethical concerns.
  • Discuss emerging fields in biotechnology. 

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:
√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed the following courses: BIO101: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology, BIO301: Cell Biology or BIO307: Microbiology, BIO305: Genetics, and BIO311: Molecular Biology. Prior completion of BIO401: Biochemistry is strongly recommended. 

Course Information

Welcome to BIO403.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.

Course Designer:  Marianna Pintér, Ph.D,

Primary Resources:  This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion:  In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Please pay special attention to Units 3 and 4, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete:

      - Subunit 1.2 Assessment
      - Subunit 2.2 Assessment
      - Subunit 2.3 Assessment
      - Subunit 3.1 Assessment
      - Sub-subunit 4.3.2 Assessment
      - Subunit 5.4 Assessment
      - Sub-subunit 6.5.1 Assessment
      - Subunit 7.2 Assessment
      - Subunit 8.3 Assessment
      - Sub-subunit 9.8.3 Assessment
      - Subunit 10.5 Assessment
      - The Final Exam

Please note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the problem sets within the above-listed assessments.
In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment:  This course should take you a total of 136 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you about 2.5 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete all of Unit 1 on Monday night.  Then, you should consider moving on to Unit 2, which should take you approximately 9 hours to complete.  For example, you may decide to complete subunits 2.1 and 2.2 (a total of 3 hours) on Tuesday night, subunit 2.3 (a total of 1 hour) on Wednesday night, etc.

Tips/Suggestions:  As noted in the “Course Requirements,” there are prerequisites for this course.  You certainly want to review BIO101 Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology (especially Unit 3), the entire BIO311: Molecular Biology course, and BIO301 Cell Biology course (especially Units 6 and 8) before you begin.  If you find Unit 4 fascinating in this course, then consider taking the BIO401:Biochemistry course as well if you have not yet done so.  These notes will be useful to review as you study for your Final Exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.