SSPB has developed a unique set of core courses to provide students foundational knowledge in systems, synthetic, and physical biology.
Introduction to Systems Modeling, SSPB 502 (Igoshin)
In this course, students study of the emergence of functional properties that are present in a biological system but not in its individual components. Systems biology attempts to understand how a process, a cell, a group of cells, or tissue works at a global level and how different components of the process interact. The topics include the studies of signaling, gene regulatory and biochemical networks, multicellular organization, and signaling. The course combines both science and engineering approaches and uses mathematical, computational and statistical tools for data analysis and modeling.
Physical Biology, SSPB 501 (Bennett)
In this course, students learn how biology can be integrated with chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science to provide a quantitative approach to problem solving in biology, biomedicine and biotechnology. Physical biology unifies two approaches in science: the study of diseases and organisms in toto (a holistic or "top down" approach) and the study of specific molecular mechanisms (a "bottom up" approach) to develop models that anticipate the physicochemical properties of molecules, cellular and organismal behaviors and fitness, and the effects of changing environments on these properties.
Synthetic Biology, SSPB 503 (Tabor)
In this course, students study the bottom-up construction of new cells to elicit engineered behaviors and the standardization of biological design. By engineering genetic and metabolic networks, synthetic biologists are able to simplify the complexity of biochemical networks and thus elucidate the quantitative and qualitative behavior of network components. This knowledge can be applied toward engineering goals such as the production of a high-value chemicals or therapeutic agents. Synthetic Biology is a highly interdisciplinary course, combining aspects of molecular biology, biochemistry, computational biology and theoretical physics.
These courses are currently offered during the fall semester. During the first year, students take all of the core courses for which they have sufficient prerequisites. Students are required to complete the core courses during their second year in residence.