Advanced Biology

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This course begins with an in-depth study of molecular biology, emphasizing prokaryotic and eukaryotic genetics and its manipulation. This leads into an in-depth study of human systems. Students engage in a term-long project in which they shadow a scientist in their field and delve into the topic based on their experience. Laboratory work includes genetic transformation of bacteria through plasmids, size exclusion and hydrophobic interaction chromatography, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and gel electrophoresis. The second half of the year involves a field trip to the OHSU cadaver lab and to the primate research center, viewing a live surgery and a variety of animal organ dissections.

Suggested (but not required) prior coursework: Experimental and/or Organic Chemistry.


Unit Essential Questions Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources
Advanced Biology

How do molecules within a cell get made and how do these molecules determine the cell's function?

How do cells communicate with one another?
How does cell signaling determine the cell's cycle -growth and reproduction?
What triggers DNA replication and what molecules are involved in DNA synthesis?
What are viruses, plasmids and prions?
How are genes modified and regulated in prokaryotes and eukarotes?
What is cancer, what is it's  molecular basis and how can we modify it? 

How does the immune system work?

How do animals regulate their internal environment?

How do we see, smell, hear and find our balance? What structures support those functions and what molecules and cells are involved in these processes?

How does the brain work? How is it structured? What role does evolution play in the function of the nervous system? How does this relate to behavior?

Why does our heart beat and why is this essential? How does muscle contract and how are molecules organized to form contractile tissue? What are the roles of the cardiovascular system?

How do we breakdown, absorb nutrients and regulate metabolism? How are organs and glands organized in the digestive system?

How do we maintain pH and water balance?

What are hormones and how do they work?

How and why do physiological mechanisms fail? What are the consequences? How can we intervene to avoid, cure and control disease?

Detailed cell form and function

The cell membrane, extracellular matrix, receptors and channels

Cell signal pathways, cell cycle, cell cycle control and cancer

DNA structure, DNA replication

Viruses, viroids, prions

Genetic modification in prokaryotes (mutation, transduction, transformation and conjugation)

Genetic modification in eurkaryotes

Cancer and immunology


Special senses; eye and ear, taste and smell (anatomy, physiology and pathology)

The nervous system (anatomy, physiology and pathology), psychology and sociology

The digestive and endocrine systems (anatomy, physiology and pathology)

The cardiovascular, muscular and lymphatic systems (anatomy, physiology and pathology)

The urinary system



Use a variety of experimental techniques and methods, including bacterial transformation, bacterial culture, cell separation, protein purification, electrophoresis, and ELISA

Maintain laboratory records

Apply scientific knowledge to problem solve in theoretical and practical ways

Use a computer and probes to collect and analyze data

Analyze research work

Propose methods to solve scientific problems

Communicate scientific ideas in writing, orally and through the use of a variety of media

Conduct an original lab-based research project and a bibliographic research project

Collaborate with fellow scientists through labs and hypothetical case studies


Experimental work and reports

Oral presentations


Research paper and research project

Biology, 8th Ed., Neil A. Campbell and Jane B. Reese

Numerous internet sources