585.607.81 - Molecular Biology

Applied Biomedical Engineering
Spring 2024


The course is intended to serve as a fundamental introduction to cell and molecular biology. Topics generally included are basic chemistry and biochemistry of the cell; structure, function, and dynamics of macromolecules; cell organization; enzyme kinetics; membranes and membrane transport; biochemistry of cellular energy cycles, including oxidative phosphorylation; replication, transcription, and translation; regulation of gene expression; and recombinant DNA technology. Where appropriate, biomedical application and devices based on principles from cell and molecular biology are emphasized.


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Julia Patrone

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Richard Potember


Course Structure

The course materials are divided into modules, which can be accessed by clicking Course Modules on the left menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, content, readings, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, exceptions are noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

Course Goals

This course will cover the fundamental principles of cell and molecular biology. Instructional material will include discussion of laboratory techniques, research areas, new technologies, and application to biomedical engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)



Hardin, J. and Bertoni, G. (2016) P., Becker's World of the Cell (9th Edition), Boston, Benjamin-Cummings. ISBN: 10: 032193492X.

Textbook information for this course is available online through the appropriate bookstore website: For online courses, search the MBS website at http://ep.jhu.edu/bookstore.

Student Coursework Requirements

It is expected that each module will take approximately 6–10 hours per week to complete. Here is an approximate breakdown: reading the assigned sections of the texts (approximately 2-3 hours per week) as well as some outside reading, listening to the audio annotated slide presentations (approximately 1-2 hours per week), and discussion and writing assignments (approximately 3–5 hours per week).

This course will consist of the following basic student requirements:

Preparation and Participation (10% of Final Grade Calculation)

You are responsible for carefully reading all assigned material and being prepared for discussion. The majority of readings are from the course text. Additional reading may be assigned to supplement text readings.

Post your initial response to the discussion questions by the evening of day 3 for that module week. Posting a response to the discussion question is part one of your grade for module discussions (i.e., Timeliness).

We will monitor module discussions and will respond to some of the discussions as discussions are posted.

Evaluation of preparation and participation is based on contribution to discussions. Preparation and participation is evaluated by the following grading elements:

  1. Timeliness (50%)
  2. Critical Thinking (50%)

Preparation and participation are graded as follows:

100–90 = A—Timeliness [regularly participates; all required postings; early in discussion; throughout the discussion]; Critical Thinking [rich in content; full of thoughts, insight, and analysis].

89–80 = B—Timeliness [frequently participates; all required postings; some not in time for others to read and respond]; Critical Thinking [substantial information; thought, insight, and analysis has taken place].

79–70 = C—Timeliness [infrequently participates; all required postings; most at the last minute without allowing for response time]; Critical Thinking [generally competent; information is thin and commonplace].

Assignments (40% of Final Grade Calculation)

Assignments will include a mix of qualitative assignments (e.g. literature reviews, exercises, research questions). Include a cover sheet with your name and assignment identifier. Also include your name and a page number indicator (i.e., page x of y) on each page of your submissions.

All assignments are due according to the dates in the Calendar.

Late submissions will not be accepted. See Late Submissions below. Qualitative assignments are evaluated by the following grading elements:

  1. Each part of question is answered (20%).
  2. Writing quality and technical accuracy (30%) (Writing is expected to meet or exceed accepted graduate- level English and scholarship standards. That is, all assignments will be graded on grammar and style as well as content).
  3. Rationale for answer is provided (20%).
  4. Examples are included to illustrate rationale (15%) (If you do not have direct experience related to a particular question, then you are to provide analogies versus examples).
  5. Outside references are included (15%).

Qualitative assignments are graded as follows:

100–90 = A—All parts of question are addressed; Writing Quality/Rationale/Examples/Outside References [rich in content; full of thought, insight, and analysis].

89–80 = B—All parts of the question are addressed; Writing Quality/Rationale/Examples/Outside References [substantial information; thought, insight, and analysis has taken place].

79–70=C—Majority of parts of the question are addressed; Writing Quality/Rationale/Examples/Outside References [generally competent; information is thin and commonplace].

<70=F—Some parts of the question are addressed; Writing Quality/Rationale/Examples/Outside References [rudimentary and superficial; no analysis or insight displayed].

Exams (50% of Final Grade Calculation, combined from 25% for Midterm and 25% for Final)

The midterm exam will be available in Module 7 and the final exam will be available in the last Module. Exams will be timed. Each question will be worth 2 points out of 100 total points.

Exams are graded as follows:

100–90 = A

89–80 = B

79–70 = C

Grading Policy

Assignments are due according to the dates posted in your Blackboard course site. You may check these due dates in the Course Calendar or the Assignments in the corresponding modules. We will post grades approximately one week after assignment due dates.

We generally do not directly grade spelling and grammar. However, egregious violations of the rules of the English language will be noted without comment. Consistently poor performance in either spelling or grammar is taken as an indication of poor written communication ability that may detract from your grade.

A grade of A indicates achievement of consistent excellence and distinction throughout the course—that is, conspicuous excellence in all aspects of assignments and discussion in every week.

A grade of B indicates work that meets all course requirements on a level appropriate for graduate academic work. These criteria apply to both undergraduates and graduate students taking the course.

Final grades will be determined by the following weighting:


% Of Grade

Preparation and Participation




Exams (Midterm + Final)

50% (25% + 25%)

Course Policies

Late submissions

Late submissions will not be accepted. Blackboard assignments will close at 11:59 PM on the date due and will not be accepted. Students should not wait until the last minute to submit assignments because large files (which many submissions will be) can take many minutes to upload to Blackboard and students may not be able to submit if the files are not completely loaded by 11:59PM. If students run into technical difficulties (i.e., the Blackboard website is not working), they may (as a matter of last resort and not to be used for every assignment) e-mail their assignment to both instructors as long as it is received in the instructors inbox before 11:59PM on the due date. Assignments received after this time will not be accepted or graded and will result in a 0 for that assignment.

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.