Researchers in the field of molecular biology study the formation, structure, and function of biological macromolecules such as nucleic acids and proteins. The work in this field focuses on the role of these macromolecules in cell replication and transmission of genetic information. It is quite common for molecular biologists to manipulate DNA for the purpose of sequencing or mutation, in which the DNA is then inserted into the genome of an organism to analyze the effects of the mutation.

A course in molecular biology will cover the following topics:

  • Cells and genomes
  • Cell chemistry and biosynthesis
  • Proteins
  • DNA and chromosomes
  • DNA replication, repair, and recombination
  • How cells read the genome: from DNA to protein
  • Control of gene expression
  • Manipulating proteins, DNA, and RNA
  • Visualizing cells
  • Membrane structure
  • Membrane transport of small molecules and the electrical properties of membranes
  • Intracellular compartments and protein sorting
  • Intracellular vesicular traffic
  • Energy conversion: mitochondria and chloroplasts
  • Cell communication
  • The cytoskeleton
  • The cell cycle and programmed cell death
  • The mechanics of cell division
  • Cell junctions, cell adhesion, and the extracellular matrix
  • Germ cells and fertilization
  • Development of multicellular organisms
  • Histology: the lives and deaths of cells in tissues
  • Cancer
  • The adaptive immune system
  • Pathogens, infection, and innate immunity


An excellent microbiology tutorial is available from the University of Arizona. Books on this topic are available from Amazon.com and Google. Students should stay up to date by following the Journal of Molecular Biology.

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