Lab Subjects

Lab Subjects

The Department of Biology offers two different laboratory subjects serving unique purposes for students. While the semester-long 7.002 Fundamentals of Experimental Molecular Biology provides an accessible entry point for any student to try a biology lab and learn more about the field from experts, 7.003 Applied Molecular Biology Laboratory aims to provide more in-depth experience for those majoring in biology-related courses to continue in their lab experience after completing 7.002.

Subject offering descriptions

7.002 Fundamentals of Experimental Molecular Biology

6 units, full-semester, available to take during the fall or spring

Satisfies 6 units of Institute laboratory credit. Not a first-year discovery subject.


This is an academic exploration subject designed to introduce the experimental processes in biological discoveries. The lectures bring in guest speakers to talk about their work and career paths to becoming scientists. In 7.002, students learn the experimental details of some essential molecular biology techniques commonly used in modern research labs, including site-directed mutagenesis, DNA isolation, molecular cloning, bacteria transformations, recombinant protein expression and purification, gel electrophoresis, and western blotting. Students learn how to record their procedures and analyze the consequential outcomes. These techniques give them a taste of life in a molecular biochemistry lab and prepare students for UROPs and other future research work. Over one semester, the students perform all the molecular biology techniques listed above to complete one project: the determination of critical residues for ATP hydrolysis in a protein that cleaves ATP as it unfolds other proteins. The student selects a site to mutate in the gene encoding the ATPase protein, expresses and purifies the mutant protein, and then tests the activity of the mutant protein. 7.002 connects the dots between genes and protein functions. 

Enrollment limited.

No prerequisites are required. 

Required for: course 7 and 10-B majors, a choice of required lab requirements for 5-7 and 6-7 and 10-C


Lecture: M 1:30-3 PM 

Lab: W 1-4:30 PM or F 1-4:30 PM

Instructor contact: Eric Chu

Faculty instructor: Adam Martin

Additional information: 7.002 also fulfills the pre-med biology lab course requirement.


7.003 Applied Molecular Biology Laboratory

Also listed as 10.7003[J].

12 units, full-semester, available to take during the fall or spring

Satisfies 6 units of Institute laboratory credit. 

Prerequisite: 7.002


7.003 is an experimental biology course in which students spend most of the lab time practicing fundamental techniques in molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology. In addition to learning how to accurately and safely perform these techniques, students gain an understanding of how and why these techniques work and what scientific questions these techniques can address. The end-of-the-semester goal is that students are able to design their own experiments to perform. Students must integrate factual knowledge with an understanding of experimental design and data analysis – skills that are important in a more advanced level lab course, a UROP, or graduate or medical school.

In this course, students work with the model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast). They perform a mutagenesis screen to isolate mutants defective in the yeast mating pathway. They then work to characterize these mutants and identify the disrupted genes involved. Through lectures and daily lab questions related to each lab session, students learn the biology behind the experiments they carry out and gain exposure to techniques beyond the scope of the course.

In addition to working in the laboratory, students learn how to communicate scientific findings to a broader audience. In the biweekly Scientific Communication (SciComm) section meetings, students explore the five parts of a scientific research article and have the opportunity to read and critique papers from the biological science literature. The major written assignment is a long-term project based on the experiments completed in the lab, drafted, and revised over the course of the term with regular feedback.

Enrollment limited.

Required for: course 7 and 10-B majors, a choice of required lab requirements for 5-7 and 6-7 and 10-C


Lecture: T 1-2 PM

Lab: T 2-5 PM and R 1-5 PM

Recitation: T 11-12.30 PM

Instructor contact: Vanessa Cheung

Faculty instructors: Eliezer Calo, Hadley Sikes (fall), Lindsay Case, Hadley Sikes (spring)