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Course Date: 05 September 2014 to 17 October 2014 (6 weeks)
This college-level course gives students a thorough understanding of gene function, and enables them to apply this understanding to real-world issues, both personal and societal. This is Part 1 of a two-part course; Part 2 focuses on the study of of how genes and traits are inherited.
Dr. Rosemary Redfield is a Professor of Zoology; she has been teaching introductory genetics to UBC students since 1993, and has been teaching online since 1998. She has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and did post-doctoral work at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research investigates the mechanism, regulation and evolutionary functions of DNA uptake by bacteria.
People affected by or concerned about a genetic disease (either directly or in a family member)
People interested in the genetic diversity of humans or other species
People who have had (or are considering having) their genes or genomes analyzed by companies such as 23andMe
People concerned about the public use of personal genetic information
People interested in breeding animals or plants, or in in conservation of endangered species
People interested in genealogy and ancestry analysis
Anyone interested in genetics but unable to enroll in university at this time
Statements of Accomplishment: Students who earn 50% or better will receive a Statement of Accomplishment; those earning 80% or better will receive a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction.
Verified Certificates: Students may choose to enroll in the optional Signature Track, which provides an identity-verified Certificate.
Useful Genetics is taught in two 6-7 week parts. Students may want to also sign up for the separate course Useful Genetics Part 2.
Part 1. Genes and their effects (6 weekly modules plus a final exam week)
Module 1. How different
are we? Introduction to DNA, genes and chromosomes and the relationships
between human populations.
Module 2.How DNA molecules change. The causes and immediate consequences of mutations.
Module 3. DNA differences
and gene functions. How mutations that change gene activity or function affect the properties of organisms.
Module 4. Mutations in regulatory genes. How mutations cause cancer. Sex determination and genes on sex chromosomes.
Natural genetic variation. How natural genetic variation is studied, and how it differs from classical alleles. Heritability and genome-wide association studies. Genetic variation for cancer risks.
Module 6. Personal
genomics. Kinds of DNA typing and genome analysis, and what
can be learned from them about health risks, personal attributes and ancestry.
Part 2. Inheritance (taught as the separate course Useful Genetics Part 2) (5 weekly modules plus a final exam week)
Module 7. The mechanics of inheritance. How genes and chromosomes are transmitted through the generations (including the molecular mechanisms of mitosis and meiosis).
Module 8. Genetic analysis. Using genetic crosses as a research tool to investigate how genes work and what they do. Sex-linkage, pedigree analysis, and hypothesis testing.
Module 9. All about breeding and inbreeding. More about heritability and GWAS. Inbreeding in humans, crops and livestock, and evolution. Hybrids and genetically modified organisms.
Module 10. Chromosomal changes. Polyploidy and aneuploidy, chromosome rearrangements, and genome evolution.
Module 11. Selected advanced topics. The origin of life, mitochondrial genes and mutations, genetic mosaicism, fetal DNA in mothers, epigenetic inheritance, and other topics students may suggest.
The two parts of Useful Genetics consist of six (Part 1) and five (Part 2) weekly modules, each comprising about 15 explanatory videos (5-15 minutes in length) and two challenging quizzes (self-test problems
and graded homework problems). Each part's modules
are accompanied by two peer-assessed explanation assignments and followed by a final exam.
The course will use free online textbooks as its primary reading resource. Links to these and to preparatory readings for students with little biology background will be provided before the course starts.