CMB Curriculum


CMB 710 A-F

Modules in the CMB 710 series (A–F) are offered sequentially during the Fall semester and together cover 24 topics; each module fulfills 1 graded credit. A minimum of four different topics are available during each module time slot, which allows maximum exploration and flexibility for a student-designed curriculum. Topics reflect the expertise of the corresponding faculty and emphasize either in-depth critical discussion of the primary literature or quantitative approaches to addressing biological questions. Each module lasts two weeks, with three meetings per week. CMB students are required to take six modules in the Fall semester of the first year and three in the Fall semester of year 2, for a total of 9 graded credits. At least six modules must be from the CMB 710 series and the remaining three may be chosen from the UPGEN 778 series, another modular course that focuses on genetics and genomics. To help prepare for each module, the instructor provides a summary and any required reading that must be completed in advance of the start of the module. Note: The Drop/Add deadline for the Fall classes applies to all modules.

CMB 710 Modules Fall 2021

CMB 720: Modern Techniques in Cell and Molecular Biology (3 graded credits)

CMB 720 provides quantitative, technical and operational skills in contemporary, cutting-edge techniques used in biomedical research, focusing on the uses, limitations and proper interpretation of each. These skills and knowledge are essential for the critical evaluation of literature and for promoting interdisciplinary research approaches. Segments of CMB 720 will focus on: (1) microscopy, (2) analysis of non-nucleic acid biomolecules and (3) genomic tools and analyses. The microscopy section covers the theory and physical principles of light microscopy techniques (super-resolution, expansion microscopy) as well as processing, visualization and quantification of imaging data. The segment on the analysis of non-nucleic acid biomolecules covers topics that include protein and post-translational modification analysis by mass spectrometry; determination of protein structure; proteomics and metabolomics; and use of antibodies. The genomic tools segment includes methods for genome manipulation, such as CRISPR; ChIP and 3C technologies; the uses and limitations of various sequencing platforms (Sanger, Illumina, PacBio and Nanopore); bioinformatics; and bulk and single-cell analyses of gene expression.

BIOTRAIN 720: Grant Writing for Biomedical Sciences (3 graded credits)

Grant-writing is a foundational skill for independent academic biomedical scientists and teaches crucial rigor and science communication strategies needed in all non-academic scientific fields as well. CMB students are required to take BIOTRAIN 720 in the fall semester of year 2. Students prepare grant proposals based on their thesis research that address the significance of the research problem, gaps in current knowledge, experimental approaches, anticipated data outcomes and alternative strategies. A detailed training plan must also be included, similar in scope to that of an F31 NRSA application. Students learn how to prepare these documents in a didactic portion of the course, which includes in-person and self-paced online instructional modules. Written proposals are critiqued by faculty and peers during topical, mock study sections. This format fosters critical thinking and analytical skills by casting students in the roles of both applicants and reviewers. Oral reviews of a proposal are given in the presence of the student author and written reviews are provided to guide the preparation of a revised, final proposal that is critiqued by the same reviewers. In most cases, a student’s final proposal becomes the basis of the subsequent preliminary exam and/or an application for independent fellowship funding.

CMB 764: Seminars in Cell and Molecular Biology (2 ungraded credits per semester)

All CMB students participate in the CMB seminar course, CMB 764. This course features an hour-long session in which one advanced student presents his or her research and another advanced student presents an introduction to the upcoming speaker in the Thursday Series. The second hour-long session is the seminar itself, presented by a distinguished visiting scientist (and open to the entire Duke community).  These seminars are held for Fall and Spring each Thursday from 12:30-1:30pm via Zoom.

Series Schedule


Additional Basic Medical Science Courses

Course List