Course Work

Required Course

(6 units required with an Application, 12 units are required without an Application)

MBM students are required to complete:

  • CSB 210
    Cell Signaling
    (4 units)



MBM students are to complete the remaining 8 units through elective courses that emphasize basic science. Students are encouraged to devise a course plan to present to the Director.

For full descriptions of School of Medicine courses, please visit the online catalog:

Course work descriptions (includes electives)

Each student in the MBM Foundation Area will take a selection of graduate-level courses tailored to fit his/her scientific background and interests.  The individualized curriculum will be developed in consultation with the Director, enabling MBM Scholars to receive the same level of rigorous basic science training as graduate students in the Stanford Biosciences Program.  This experience will help medical students formulate and undertake a significant basic science project for their scholarly research.  In addition, the participation of MBM Scholars in these activities will enhance their interactions with PhD students, enriching the training of both groups.  MBM students will bring a valuable medical perspective to discussions with their PhD program peers, while learning basic science approaches, modes of inquiry, and critical evaluation skills.

The single required course in the MBM curriculum, CSB 210: Cell Signaling, is directed by Dr. Tobias Meyer and provides a comprehensive survey of major cell signaling mechanisms, their roles in human physiology and disease, and the experimental strategies used to investigate these processes.  The 4-unit course has no textbook but rather consists of primary scientific literature on each topic, which are discussed in formal lectures and student-led paper reviews.  The class also provides students with an opportunity to propose an original research plan.  Through these activities, the course is designed to serve as a foundation for all future learning throughout the careers of MBM Foundation participants.  CSB 210: Cell Signaling is typically offered during the Winter quarter and can be integrated into the second year of medical school coursework.

All other courses for the MBM curriculum are taken as electives, and it is expected that these classes will emphasize basic science concepts and/or literature.  The goal of the MBM Foundation is to minimize coursework requirements to allow maximum time for students to pursue creative research at the laboratory bench. 

Course curricula will be designed on an individual basis, in consultation with the MBM Director, and will typically draw from the courses listed below, athough other classes may be taken if the student and his/her Research Advisory Committee feels that a particular course would be invaluable to student’s research project.

General Guidelines for MBM Foundation Coursework

Graduate courses taken to serve as MBM Foundation electives should emphasize basic science concepts and/or experimental approaches.  The subject matter will be typically taught from the primary literature rather than textbooks and course requirements will involve lectures, rigorous student discussions of original scientific papers, and/or the development of an original research proposal.  BIO 203/GENE 203/DBIO 203: Advanced Genetics can be taken in place of GENE 202: Human Genetics in the first quarter of the first year of medical school coursework.  Example courses are listed below.

Examples of Foundational Courses

BIO 214/BIOC 224/MCP 221: Advanced Cell Biology
Current research on cell structure, function, and dynamics. Topics include complex cell phenomena such as cell division, apoptosis, compartmentalization, transport and trafficking, motility and adhesion, differentiation, and multicellularity. Current papers from the primary literature. Prerequisite for advanced undergraduates: BIO 129A,B, and consent of instructor.
Terms: Win | Units: 2-5 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Kopito, R. (PI) ; Nachury, M. (PI) ; Pfeffer, S. (PI) ; Straight, A. (PI) ; Theriot, J. (PI)

DBIO 210: Developmental Biology
Current areas of research in developmental biology. How organismic complexity is generated during embryonic and post-embryonic development. The roles of genetic networks, induction events, cell lineage, maternal inheritance, cell-cell communication, and hormonal control in developmental processes in well-studied organisms such as vertebrates, insects, and nematodes. Team-taught. Students meet with faculty to discuss current papers from the literature. Prerequisite: graduate standing, consent of instructor. Recommended: familiarity with basic techniques and experimental rationales of molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Talbot, W. (PI)

BIO 203/GENE 203/DBIO 203:  Advanced Genetics
Focused on application of the genetics toolbox to problems in modern biology research. Topics covered include analytic methods, genetic manipulation, genome analysis, and human genetics. Lectures and faculty-led discussion sections with evaluation of papers. Students with minimal experience in genetics should prepare by working out problems in college level textbooks.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Bustamante, C. (PI) ; Fire, A. (PI) ; Sidow, A. (PI) ; Stearns, T. (PI)

BIOC 241/BIOPHYS 241/SBIO 241  Biological Macromolecules
The physical and chemical basis of macromolecular function. Forces that stabilize biopolymers with three-dimensional structures and their functional implications. Thermodynamics, molecular forces, structure and kinetics of enzymatic and diffusional processes, and relationship to their practical application in experimental design and interpretation. Biological function and the level of individual molecular interactions and at the level of complex processes. Case studies in lecture and discussion of classic and current literature. Enrollment limited to 30. Prerequisites: None; background in biochemistry and physical chemistry preferred but material available for those with deficiency; undergraduates with consent of instructor only.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Das, R. (PI) ; Harbury, P. (PI) ; Herschlag, D. (PI) ; Weis, W. (PI)

CBIO 241:  Molecular, Cellular, and Genetic Basis of Cancer
Focus is on key experiments and classic primary research papers in cancer biology. Letter grade required. Undergraduates require consent of course director.
Terms: Aut | Units: 5 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Giaccia, A. (PI) ; Graves, E. (PI)

Examples of Specialty-Area Courses

BIO 156/BIO 256/GENE 206/PATH 206:  Epigenetics
Mechanisms by which phenotypes not determined by the DNA sequence are stably inherited in successive cell divisions. From the discovery of position-effect variegation in Drosophila in the 1920s to present-day studies of covalent modifications of histones and DNA methylation. Topics include: position effect, gene silencing, heterochromatin, centromere identity, genomic imprinting, histone code, variant histones, and the role of epigenetics in cancer. Prerequisite: BIO41 and BIO42 , or GENE 203, or consent of instructor.
Terms: Spr | Units: 2 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Gozani, O. (PI) ; Lipsick, J. (PI)

BIO 254/NBIO 254:  Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Includes lectures for BIO 154. Cellular and molecular mechanisms in the organization and functions of the nervous system. Topics: wiring of the neuronal circuit, synapse structure and synaptic transmission, signal transduction in the nervous system, sensory systems, molecular basis of behavior including learning and memory, molecular pathogenesis of neurological diseases.
Terms: alternate years | Units: 5 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors:  Clandinin, T. (PI); Luo, L. (PI) ; Shen, K. (PI)

BIOE 214/BIOMEDIN 214/CS 214/GENE 214:  Representations and Algorithms for Computational Molecular Biology
Topics: introduction to bioinformatics and computational biology, algorithms for alignment of biological sequences and structures, computing with strings, phylogenetic tree construction, hidden Markov models, Gibbs Sampling, basic structural computations on proteins, protein structure prediction, protein threading techniques, homology modeling, molecular dynamics and energy minimization, statistical analysis of 3D biological data, integration of data sources, knowledge representation and controlled terminologies for molecular biology, microarray analysis, machine learning (clustering and classification), and natural language text processing. Prerequisites: programming skills; consent of instructor for 3 units.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-4 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Altman, R. (PI)

CSB 220/BIOC 220: Chemistry of Biological Processes
The principles of organic and physical chemistry as applied to biomolecules. Goal is a working knowledge of chemical principles that underlie biological processes, and chemical tools used to study and manipulate biological systems. Prerequisites: organic chemistry and biochemistry, or consent of instructor.
Terms: Spr, alternate years | Units: 4 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Wandless, T. (PI)

CSB 230:  Current Methods in Proteomics
Introduces students to the instrumentation, experimental strategies, and computational methods used for identification and quantification of protein concentrations and posttranslational modifications on a systems-wide level. Topics include mass spectrometry (instrumentation configurations; polypeptide ionization; sample preparation and fractionation techniques; mass spectra interpretation; relative and absolute protein quantitation; and proteome-scale dataset analysis), protein and antibody arrays, multiparameter flow cytometry with Bayesian analysis, ribosomal protein translation profiling, and GFP and fluorescence imaging based quantification of protein abundance and post-translational modifications.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Elias, J. (PI) ; Teruel, M. (PI)

CSB 260:  Quantitative Chemical Biology
Current topics including protein and small molecule engineering, cell signaling sensors and modulators, molecular imaging, chemical genetics, combinatorial chemistry, in vitro evolution, and signaling network modeling. Prerequisites: undergraduate organic chemistry, and biochemistry or cell biology.
Terms: Spr, alternate years | Units: 4 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Chen, J. (PI)

DBIO 220/GENE 210:  Genomics and Personalized Medicine
Principles of genetics underlying associations between genetic variants and disease susceptibility and drug response. Topics include: genetic and environmental risk factors for complex genetic disorders; design and interpretation of genome-wide association studies; pharmacogenetics; full genome sequencing for disease gene discovery; population structure and genetic ancestry; use of personal genetic information in clinical medicine; ethical, legal, and social issues with personal genetic testing. Hands-on workshop making use of personal or publicly available genetic data. Prerequisite: GENE 202 or 203.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Kim, S. (PI)

GENE 211:  Genomics
Genome evolution, organization, and function; technical, computational, and experimental approaches; hands-on experience with representative computational tools used in genome science; and a beginning working knowledge of PERL.
Terms: Win | Units: 3 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Cherry, J. (PI) ; Sherlock, G. (PI)

MI 210:  Advanced Pathogenesis of Bacteria, Viruses, and Eukaroytic Parasites
The molecular mechanisms by which microorganisms invade animal and human hosts, express their genomes, interact with macromolecular pathways in the infected host, and induce disease. Current literature.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | Grading: Medical Option (Med-Ltr-CR/NC)
Instructors: Monack, D. (PI)

Examples of Literature-Based Courses

BIOC 215/DBIO 215/GENE 215:  Frontiers of Biological Research
Literature discussion in conjunction with the Frontiers in Biological Research seminar series in which investigators present current work. Students and faculty meet beforehand to discuss papers from the speaker’s primary research literature. Students meet with the speaker after the seminar to discuss their research and future direction, commonly used techniques to study problems in biology, and comparison between the genetic and biochemical approaches in biological research.
Terms: Aut, Win | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit | Grading: Medical Satisfactory/No Credit
Instructors: Calos, M. (PI) ; Harbury, P. (PI) ; Villeneuve, A. (PI)

BIO 459/BIOC 459/BIOE 459/CHEM 459/CHEMENG 459/PSYCH 459:  Frontiers of Interdiscipinary Biosciences
Students register through their affiliated department; otherwise register for CHEMENG 459. For specialists and non-specialists. Sponsored by the Stanford BioX Program. Three seminars per quarter address scientific and technical themes related to interdisciplinary approaches in bioengineering, medicine, and the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. Leading investigators from Stanford and the world present breakthroughs and endeavors that cut across core disciplines. Pre-seminars introduce basic concepts and background for non-experts. Registered students attend all pre-seminars; others welcome. See Recommended: basic mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics.
Terms: Aut, Win, Spr | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit | Grading: Satisfactory/No Credit
Instructors: Robertson, C. (PI)