Molecular Biology and Public Health
SPH EH 713
The last 10 years has seen an explosion in the discipline of molecular biology and in the technologies available for defining the molecular basis of disease and for confirming the role of the environment in those diseases. These stunningly rapid advances have important implications for current and future approaches to public health. Therefore, an understanding of the principal concepts of how molecular biology relates to public health is critical to the modern public health practitioner. The goal of this course is to equip students with the ability to understand the potential applications of genetic engineering for various health specialties. In particular, the course introduces the student to the basic concepts of cellular biology and molecular genetics and investigates the use of a number of powerful molecular techniques including, but not limited to, gene cloning, gene therapy, genetic engineering of animals and plants (GMOs), identification of molecular bio-markers of susceptibility, mapping of the molecular signals that form the basis of cancer, pinpointing the footprints of environmental chemical exposures in cancer and other diseases, and mining of the human genome. The implications of these advances vis-a-vis the right to privacy, discrimination on the basis of genetic makeup, the cloning of humans, and other ethical issues are also addressed. While a background in biology is helpful, this course is negotiable by any student showing a high level of enthusiasm for scientific discovery.