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Core Courses

GNET 621 – Principles of Genetic Analysis

Greg Copenhaver and Jeff Sekelsky
3 credits, Fall semester

Intended to provide an intensive introduction to modern genetic analysis based on classical and contemporary paradigms, drawing on examples from a wide range of model organisms. There are two lectures per week; the material covered in lectures is reinforced through problem sets and readings of research and review articles. There is also a weekly recitation at which students lead discussion of assigned articles.

GNET 621 Flyer        GNET 621 Fall 2023 Syllabus

GNET 631 – Advanced Molecular Biology

Jack Griffith, Dale Ramsden, Aziz Sancar, Albert Baldwin, Brian Strahl, William Marzluff
4 credits, Spring semester

This course will provide comprehensive coverage of advance topics in molecular biology, including the structure and function of DNA, the molecule most fundamental to life. Topics include: organization of DNA into genomes, genome replication, recombination, repair, and cellular responses to DNA damage, mechanisms of gene regulation, transcription, histone modifications, protein translation and transport, and RNA structure, function, processing, and transport. There are three lectures per week led by Faculty Instructors, as well as a TA-led recitation held once per week. Note that this course will be offered for the first time in the Spring semester of 2024; the legacy 631 and 632 courses have been combined into a single course that will cover fewer topics at similar depth and rigor. There will not be an Advanced Molecular Biology course offered in the Fall semester of 2023.

GNET 631 flyer           GNET / BIOC BIOL 631 Fall 2019 Syllabus

GNET 632 Spring 2020_Syllabus       GNET 632 flyer

 Genetics Modules

GNET 645 – Quantitative Genetics of Complex Traits

Marty Ferris
1 credit, Spring semester

In this course, students will learn about various topics that form the basis for understanding Quantitative Genetics of Complex Traits with biomedical and agricultural relevance. The ultimate goal of quantitative genetics in this post-genomic era is prediction of phenotype from genotype, namely deducing the molecular basis for genetic trait variation.

GNET 645 Spring 2019 Syllabus          GNET 645 646 647 Spring 2020 Flier

GNET 646 – Mouse Models of Human Disease

Christoph Rau
1 credit, Spring semester

This is a lecture-styled module that will focus on the laboratory mouse as a model organism to learn fundamental genetic concepts while discussing how recently developed mouse models combined with state-of-the-art experimental approaches are being used to elucidate gene function relevant to human development, physiology, and disease. There will be an emphasis on understanding the impact of genetic, physiological, environmental, and microbial differences in developing appropriate mouse models for human disease. Lectures will cover approaches for both manipulating the mouse genome and for utilizing naturally occurring genetic variation among mouse strains to identify and characterize genes responsible for phenotypes. The latter portion of the class will cover the use of mouse models (either via genetic manipulation or through comparative analyses of strains) for studying the epigenetic basis of disease. A common theme of the course is to understand optimal approaches for using technology and resources (consortiums & databases) to develop and analyze mouse models for translational studies in pre-clinical settings.

GNET 646 Spring 2020 Syllabus             GNET 645 646 647 Spring 2020 Flier

GNET 647 – Human Genetics and Genomics

Karen Mohlke and Samir Kelada
1 credit, Spring semester

This module covers principles and modern approaches of human genetics and genomics, including human genetic variation, genome-wide association analysis, sequencing in monogenic and complex diseases, epigenomics, regulatory variation, gene-environment interactions, causality of variants, and clinical genetics.  Readings include landmark papers and the current literature and should be read before class to facilitate discussion in class and recitation.

GNET 647 Spring 2019 Syllabus            GNET 645 646 647 Spring 2020 Flier

Computational Biology Modules

GNET 730 – Fundamentals of Quantitative Image Analysis for Light Microscopy

Michelle Itano and Tessa Ropp
1 credit, Spring semester

This class is designed mostly for cell biologists starting a project that requires quantification of light microscopy images but we welcome everyone interested in the topic. You will learn how to use two popular open-source software packages – ImageJ (Fiji) and CellProfiler. We will especially focus on automating repetitive tasks in image analysis using both of them. We do not require any mathematical background or programming skills but we will write a few lines of code so you should not be scared of the idea.

BCB_GNET_730_2020_syllabus          BCB_GNET_730_2020_flyer

GNET 742 – Introduction to Unix and Python programming for biomedical researchers

Hemant Kelkar and Jeremy Wang
1 credit, Spring semester

This class is designed to teach the fundamentals of UNIX operating system and Python programming using practical “hands-on” computer instruction.  This module will concentrate on applications of Python programming to biomedical data/analysis. Target audience is biomedical scientists who are interested in getting familiar with computer clusters for manipulating, parsing, analyzing biological text format data.

GNET 742 Spring 2020 Syllabus

GNET 747 – Development of New applications for Next Generation Sequencing

Piotr Mieczkowski
2 credits, Fall semester

This course is designed to shed light on the wide variety of tools available for developing new ideas for next-generation sequencing applications. Lecture and paper discussions.

GNET 647 Fall 2023 Syllabus

GNET 749 – Practical RNASeq

Mauro Calabrese, Hemant Kelkar, and Jesse Raab
2 credits, Spring semester

This graduate-level course is designed to familiarize students with everything needed to run one complete RNA-Seq experiment, including the concepts behind experimental design, how to prepare samples, running them on a NextSeq 500, and analyzing data. There will be minimal emphasis on theory and heavy focus on practical aspects. There are no formal prerequisites required for this course and no prior experience with UNIX or the command line interface is expected.

GNET_PHCO 749_practical_RNAseq_syllabus_Spring 2019


Additional resources for computational analysis

UNC offers multiple workshops and short courses for basic bioinformatics skill development:

UNC Bioinformatics and Analytics Research Collaborative (BARC) Classes

UNC R Open Labs at the Odum Institute

UNC Research Computing Presentations

There are also semester-long courses that provide a deeper dive:

BIOS 611 – Introduction to data science

BIOS/BCB 784 – Introduction to computational biology


 Seminar Courses

These courses count as the required journal club/seminar course. Additional courses outside of GNET can also count for this requirement, as long as they meet for the entire semester and count for 2 or more credit hours. These include (but are not limited to):


GNET/PATH 801 – Scientific Critical Thinking and Grant Writing

Cyrus Vaziri and Jessica Bowser
3 credits, Fall semester

This discussion course will focus on molecular events that regulate normal cell cycle progression, and on how deregulation of the cell cycle leads to cancer. This course will follow the development of the cell cycle field chronologically, illustrating how current concepts and paradigms have evolved as a result of scientific inquiry. This will be a perfect starting point for students that would like to know more about the cell cycle as it pertains to cancer, but have no prior knowledge of this field.

Representative GNET_PATH 801 Syllabus_Fall 2021

GNET 801_PATH 801 Flyer Fall 2023

GNET/BIOL 625 – Seminar in Genetics

Greg Copenhaver, Corbin Jones, and Jeff Sekelsky
2 credits, Spring semester

This is a journal club-style discussion course with a twist. We spend one or two weeks discussing articles from one lab that does research on meiosis, recombination, evolution of sex, or related topics. That P.I. then visits the class, either by teleconference or in person, to discuss another article. Visits begin with chatting about the person’s trajectory in science, how this project arose, what the publication process was like…or anything the students want to ask. This gives participants insight into a life in science. Visitors come from research I universities, primarily undergraduate colleges, private research institutions, and government laboratories in the US and abroad.


Additional courses that count toward the seminar/journal club requirement

BIOC 702 – Advanced Topics and Chromatin and Epigenetics (See below under “Other Courses Taught By Genetics Faculty”)

BIOL 639: Seminar in Plant Molecular & Cell Biology

BIOL 649: Seminar in Cell Biology

CBPH 850: Modern Concepts in Cell Biology

PATH 766 & 767: Current Topics in Cardiovascular Biology

PATH 725: Cancer Pathology


Special Courses for GMB Students


GNET 701 – Genetics Seminar series

Jeff Sekelsky and Dan McKay
1 credit, Fall and Spring semesters

Diverse but current topics in all aspects of genetics. Relates new techniques and current research of notables in the field of genetics. Content focuses on presentations by invited, non-UNC faculty and varies from week to week

GNET 702/703 – Student Seminars

Jeff Sekelsky and Dan McKay
1 credit, Fall and Spring semesters

A course to provide public lecture experience to advanced genetics students. Students present personal research seminars based on their individual dissertation projects. Lectures are privately critiqued by fellow students and genetics faculty. New schedule is arranged every year.

GNET 850 – Training in Genetic Teaching

Jeff Sekelsky and Dan McKay
3 credits, Fall and Spring semesters

Students are responsible for assistance in teaching genetics and work under the supervision of the individual faculty instructors of various courses, with whom they have regular discussion of methods, content and evaluation of performance. Opportunities exist to teach both undergraduate and graduate level courses.

Other Courses Taught by Genetics Faculty

BCB 718 – Computational Modeling Laboratory

Jeremy Purvis and Adam Palmer
1 credit, Spring semester

This course provides a practical introduction to computational modeling of biological systems. We will focus on how to choose and implement different modeling techniques—deterministic, stochastic, or inferred—and will use the same biological pathway as a case study throughout the course.

BCB 718 Syllabus – Spring 2023

BIOC 702 – Advanced Topics in Chromatin and Epigenetics

Brian Strahl, Rob McGinty, Jill Dowen, Doug Phanstiel, Buddy Weisman, Wesley Legant, Jesse Raab, David Williams, Ageliki Tsagaratou, Mauro Calabrese, Ian Davis, Lindsey James, Nate Hathaway, Karl Shpargel, Dan McKay, Paul Maddox, Kerry Bloom, Hector Franco

1 credit, Fall semester

Each class will cover a unique topic in epigenetics and provide a historical view of the major discoveries that shaped the field with discussions and examination of current literature.

BIOC 702_Fall 2023

BIOL 454-002 – Evolutionary Genetics

Parul Johri
3 credits, Fall semester

The roles of mutation, genetic drift, population history, and natural selection in the evolution of the genotype. Basic principles are applied to biological studies. Three lecture hours a week.

Course Goals:  The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the evolutionary processes that shape genomic variation. The course will have a heavy quantitative emphasis and you will be challenged to understand derivations, experiments, conclusions, and primary literature.


MCRO 614 – Immunobiology

Jason Whitmire
4 credits, Fall semester

This graduate course covers fundamental principles in immunology and discusses how the immune system contributes to health or disease.  Initial topics concern the development of innate and adaptive immune cells and discusses how these immune cells recognize and respond to different stimuli and defend against pathogens. The later part of the course covers special topics, including immune responses at different anatomical sites, autoimmunity, and the role of the immune system in several human diseases. This course is targeted to graduate students whose projects involve infectious disease, autoimmune disease, and immunotherapies.

MCRO 614 Syllabus – Fall 2023