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 Molecular and Cell Biology

(College of Letters and Science)

Department Office: 497 Life Sciences Addition
Undergraduate Affairs Office: 2083 Valley Life Sciences Bldg. (VLSB), (510) 643-8895
Graduate Affairs Office: 299 Life Sciences Addition, (510) 642-5252
Chairs: G. Steven Martin, Ph.D., and Michael Botchan, Ph.D.

Faculty Lists and Departmental Web Sites

Molecular and Cell Biology faculty

Molecular and Cell Biology web site

Related Course Descriptions

Molecular and Cell Biology courses

Department Overview

The teaching and research activities of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) concern the molecular structures and processes of cellular life and their roles in the function, reproduction, and development of living organisms. This agenda covers a broad range of specialized disciplines, such as biochemistry, microbiology, biophysics, molecular biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, immunology, tumor biology and neurobiology. The types of living organisms from which the departmental faculty draws its working materials are as diverse as its disciplinary specializations, ranging from viruses and microbes through plants, roundworms, annelids, arthropods, and mollusks to fish, amphibia, and mammals. The faculty of the department is organized into five divisions: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Cell and Developmental Biology; Genetics, Genomics and Development; Immunology and Pathogenesis; and Neurobiology.

The Undergraduate Major

The undergraduate major in molecular and cell biology is composed of five emphases that encompass the diversity of scientific interests of the department's faculty. Some students will take a curriculum that includes more molecular and structural components and others will have a more cellular and systems orientation, but the perspectives and content of all emphases overlap considerably. Students majoring in any emphasis have been highly successful in entering graduate or medical school and in other science- and health-related careers. Details on the MCB major, its requirements and policies, as well as resources for students, are available in the MCB Undergraduate Affairs Office, 2083 Valley Life Sciences Building, or see their website at

Lower Division Requirements:

• For all but BMB Biological Chemistry: Math 1A-1B; Chemistry 1A (or Chemistry 4A), 3A/AL-3B/BL; Biology 1A/1AL-1B; and Physics 8A-8B (or Physics 7A-7B). Total lower division units: 39.

• For BMB Biological Chemistry: Math 1A-1B; Chemistry 1A-1B (or Chemistry 4A-4B), Biology 1A/1AL-1B; and Physics 8A-8B (or Physics 7A-7B). Total lower division units: 33. (Note: BMB Biological Chemistry majors must take Chemistry 112A-112B in place of Chemistry 3A/AL-3B/BL.)

Upper Division Requirements:

• For Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB): MCB C100A, 100B, 110, 110L, 140/C148, BMB elective.

• For BMB Biological Chemistry: Chemistry 112A-112B, MCB C100A, Chemistry 130B, Chemistry 135, MCB 110L, MCB 130A/140.

• For Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB): MCB 102, 104, 136/130A, 133L and two CDB electives.

• For Genetics, Genomics, and Development (GG&D): MCB C100A, 110, 140, 140L, GG&D elective A/B, and elective B.

• For Developmental Genetics: MCB 102, 104, 141, 140L, GG&D elective A/B and GG&D elective B.

• For Immunology and Pathogenesis (IM&P): MCB C100A, 110, 104/140, 150, 150L, IM&P elective.

• For Infectious Disease (IM&P): MCB 102, 104, 150, 150L; IM&P elective A, elective B.

• For Neurobiology: MCB 102, 104, C160, 160L/163; NEURO elective A/B, elective B.

Honors Program. The MCB honors program offers exceptional senior students recognition for outstanding academic achievement and the opportunity to conduct original research under the guidance of an MCB faculty member. To graduate with honors in the major, students must: (1) complete at least two semesters of research including 4 to 8 units of MCB H196; (2) have a cumulative Berkeley GPA of at least 3.3 in all work completed at Berkeley; (3) have at least a 3.5 GPA in all MCB major requirements, or 3.5 in all upper division MCB courses; (4) present their research in an approved forum, such as an MCB symposium, the Undergraduate Poster Session, or other scientific meeting; and (5) write an honors thesis approved by an MCB faculty sponsor. Additional information on H196 and receiving honors is available in the Undergraduate Affairs Office and on the MCB website.

Graduate Program

The department offers a program of graduate study leading to the Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology. This program provides advanced training in the research methods and concepts of the study of the molecular structures and processes of cellular life. The training is intellectually focused, but at the same time offers unusually wide opportunities for varied disciplinary specialization. Undergraduate preparation for admission to the program should correspond to one of the two plans of the departmental undergraduate major detailed above. All students working for the Ph.D. will be required to serve as a graduate student instructor for two semesters during the first three years. Students seeking detailed information about such matters as admission, curriculum, and sources of financial support should go to or contact the department by mail at Graduate Affairs Office, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 299 Life Sciences Addition #3200, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200. E-mail:

Research Facilities

The Cancer Research Laboratory is a research institute on the Berkeley campus that carries on a research, teaching, and service program designed to foster interdepartmental participation in cancer research. Some of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology faculty are also members of the Cancer Research Laboratory. The central research program represents a multidisciplinary approach to an understanding of the mechanism of neoplastic transformation using a variety of systems. Graduate student and postdoctoral research programs are supported in various areas of tumor biology, biochemistry, cell biology, endocrinology, genetics, immunology, molecular biology, and tumor virology. The Cancer Research Laboratory also operates five research facilities: (1) Flow Cytometry Facility for fluorescence activated cell sorting and analysis; (2) Molecular Imaging Facility with two-photon microscopes for image analysis; and (3) Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Facility; (4) Immunology DNA Microarray Consortium; and (5) Gene Targeting Facility for construction of transgenic and chimeric mice. Instrumentation in the facilities is operated by highly trained staff, and training is offered in methods and techniques associated with each facility. For more information, go to

The Functional Genomics Laboratory at Berkeley was established to allow Berkeley scientists to exploit profound technological advances in the field of genomics. These advances, which include the sequencing of entire genomes of selected model systems and the ability to survey genome-wide patterns of gene expression, now allow the dissection of biological processes at unprecedented levels of detail. In particular, this research facility provides the infrastructure, technologies, and computational resources for the performance of DNA microarray experiments, which allow the analysis of mRNA expression from tens of thousands of genes at a time. The Functional Genomics Laboratory currently possesses all the equipment necessary for conducting DNA microarray experiments, including thermal cyclers, fluidics robots, microarray printing robots, laser scanning microscopes for microarray scanning, an Affymetrix workstation and scanner, and dedicated computers for data analysis and storage of informatics databases. For more information, go to

The Robert D. Ogg Electron Microscope Laboratory is an instructional and research unit of the College of Letters and Science. It houses equipment for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The staff is skilled not only in the operation and maintenance of instruments but in standard and most specialized techniques of sample preparation. Qualified undergraduates and graduate students, postdoctoral associates, faculty, and research staff in biological and physical sciences, once trained, may make arrangements for use of the instruments in research. Instruction is provided in the form of both classes and individual training. Training is provided as MCB 481B and/or 481C. Registered students and faculty are not charged for training. Nominal charges are made for use of the laboratory for individual research work. With permission from the director, non-UC personnel can be accepted for training or laboratory use. Equipment can be used outside normal hours. The laboratory provides demonstrations of the electron microscope and preparative techniques for on-campus classes and can make special arrangements for tour groups. For more information, go to

Other specialized research facilities include those for x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance studies, large-scale fermentation, tissue culture, and DNA sequencing.

The Berkeley Screening Center is a campus-wide facility enabling Berkeley researchers to perform high-throughput genetic and chemical screens. The BSC provides automation, including automated image-acquisition, microscopy, and high-throughput liquid handling technology; support for screen execution and analysis; bioinformatic tools; and siRNA libraries targeting Drosophila, mouse, and human genomes, kinomes, and ubiquitinomes. For more information, go to

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