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 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 645 – Quantitative Genetics of Complex Traits
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 646 – Mouse Models of Human Disease
Folami Ideraabdullah and 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 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 760 – CRISPR-Based Genome Engineering
1 credit, Spring semester
Precise genome engineering of living cells has been revolutionized by the introduction of the highly specific and easily programmable properties of the CRISPR-Cas technology. This has greatly accelerated research into human health, has facilitated the discovery of novel therapeutics, and has also been used as a clinical tool for gene therapy. However, the ability to alter the human genome in a permanent and inheritable way can lead to unintended (or sometimes intended) consequences that can profoundly change society. This graduate-level course is designed to teach students about the origins of CRISPR-Cas genome engineering technology, its applications to research and human health, and the ethical/societal considerations surrounding this powerful technology. Emphasis will be made on recent literature, new applications, discoveries and bioethics. As a prerequisite, students interested in taking this class must have taken an advanced Genetics or Molecular Biology course.
Computational Biology Modules
GNET 730 – Fundamentals of Quantitative Image Analysis for Light Microscopy
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.
GNET 742 – Introduction to Unix and Python programming for biomedical researchers
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 747 – Development of New applications for Next Generation Sequencing
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 749 – Practical RNASeq
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.
Additional resources for computational analysis
UNC offers multiple workshops and short courses for basic bioinformatics skill development:
UNC R Open Labs at the Odum Institute
There are also semester-long courses that provide a deeper dive:
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
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.
GNET/BIOL 625 – Seminar in Genetics
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
MCRO 614 – Immunobiology
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.