College of Graduate Studies

Spring Selectives

In the second half of the spring semester, doctoral training programs in the College of Graduate Studies offer First Year Curriculum students a choice of discipline- or program-specific courses. These seven-week “Selectives” provide students with more focused studies in their specific fields of interest. Upon registering for the 2014 Spring semester, students are required to enroll in one of the Selectives courses listed below. Specific times and locations for each of the Selectives will be announced in advance of the registration deadline.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

One of the following five Selectives will be offered each year. Merit-based grades are based on class participation (25%) and outside assignments (75%); the latter include written reviews of scientific manuscripts (40%) and presentation of a scientific paper in class (35%).
Course Director: Christopher Davies, Ph.D. (

Mechanism of Aging and Life Span
(BMB 605A)
Many pathological processes have become amenable to study using the various tools and approaches of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, chemistry, and bioinformatics. This is perhaps best illustrated in the study of aging. After decades of little progress, it is now apparent that fundamental processes regulate lifespan of organisms ranging from yeast to Caenorhabditis elegans, to Drosophila, to mice, and, by extension, to humans. These common mechanisms involve transcription factors, insulin-like signaling, lipid signaling pathways, and telomerase. Disorders in these pathways result in disturbances in lifespan, and in some cases in human diseases. This course will provide the students with the necessary foundation in understanding the various models employed for the study of aging and lifespan. The course will rely primarily on original literature and in-depth discussion of key foundation papers. The discussion will be led by expert faculty who will introduce each topic and provide the students with the necessary foundations.

Mechanism of Cancer Pathogenesis (BMB 605B)
The abnormal behavior of neoplastic cells can often be traced to alterations in cell death and apoptosis. This course will provide the study of molecular mechanisms involved in the transformation process, the study of altered levels of specific growth factors, intracellular processes for conveying lipid membrane signals to the nucleus, portions of the transcription apparatus, and genes involved in the cell cycle, the regulation of DNA replication, and programmed cell death.

Mechanisms of Inflammation (BMB 605C)
Understanding the mechanisms underlying the inflammation process is an emerging area of research. In particular, bioactive molecules produced by immune system cells are involved in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, sepsis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and atherosclerosis. This course will provide a study of mechanisms leading to and maintaining the inflammation process, such as dyslipidemia, the leading cause of the inflammation process that leads to the atherothrombotic disease, and the oxidative stress, the pathological factor responsible for this damage. In addition, the course will focus on a variety of stimuli, such as mechanical, anoxic, chemical (e.g. oxidized LDL), immunological or infectious ones, that are responsible for activation of the endothelium. Finally, the course will also examine how many infectious agents regulate the inflammation process, leading either to the control of the infection or the development of infectious disease, depending on the cross talk between the host and the pathogen.

Pathogenesis of Diabetes (BMB 605D)
Diabetes is the most common disease in developed countries. Understating its pathogenesis will potentially improve new therapeutic interventions. The role of a particular life style as well as inflammation and autoimmunity have been implicated as crucial factors for the development of diabetes. This course will discuss the molecular mechanisms by which obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, inflammation and autoimmunity can lead to the development of diabetes.

Autophagy and Human Disease (BMB 605E)
Autophagy is a cellular process in which the cell self-digests its own components to recycle nutrients and to eliminate unnecessary or damaged proteins and organelles. Recent studies have demonstrated the fundamental importance of autophagy in health and disease. Participants will be introduced to the historical overview of the field, the current knowledge on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of autophagy, and how autophagy plays a role in various aspects of human pathophysiology. The discussion topics include autophagy in stress response, infectious diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Department Microbiology and Immunology

Immunobiology (MBIM 788)
Course Co-Director: Carl Atkinson, Ph.D. (
Intensive 7-week introductory immunology course for graduate students in lecture format, utilizing Janeways Immunobiology as a textbook. Emphasis is on understanding molecular mechanisms resulting in immunity, and experimental methods for testing and discovering these mechanisms.
Emerging Infectious Diseases (MBIM 785)
Course Co-Directors: Laura Kasman, Ph.D. ( and Daniel Eisenman, Ph.D. (
This course will provide an introduction to what makes a microbe a pathogen through in-depth study of several microorganisms responsible for emerging or epidemic infectious diseases. Among the diseases covered are Ebola/Marburg virus, tuberculosis, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, influenza, anthrax, epidemic fungi, and new emerging pathogens based on the latest surveillance information.  Biosafety, biocontainment, and handling of Select Agents will also be covered. Classes will include lectures, primary literature reading and analysis, a student presentation, and some in-class small group work. Student performance will be assessed by weekly assignments, participation, and a final exam.

Departments of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences

Drug Discovery & Molecular Pharmacology (PCOL 724/DDBS 712)
Course Directors: Steven Rosenzweig, Ph.D. (; PCOL) and Kennerly Patrick, PH.D. (; DDBS).
In this course, students will be introduced to the scientific fundamentals used in drug design, focusing on the targeting of cell signaling pathways and ranging from bench discovery, drug approval for human testing and ultimately, therapeutic application. Agents for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease and psychiatric disorders will be exemplified. This course underscores the interdisciplinary nature of pharmacology and medicinal chemistry, within which biochemistry, cell biology, physiology and medicine have been integrated to facilitate drug discovery. Understanding biological problems/pathologies at a mechanistic level are shown to be essential to the rational design of tomorrow’s best-in-class drugs. The interdependence of pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic relationships will be discussed as a prominent feature of drug discovery. Merit grades will be based on class participation (25%) and outside assignments (75%).

Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology Program

Advanced Cell Biology (MCBP 723)
Course Director: Amy Bradshaw, Ph.D. (
This course is primarily literature based, spanning selected topics building on content of the first year curriculum. There will be a different teaching team each of the first five weeks. The sixth week will be for student presentations on a topic of their choice (evaluated by all faculty). A formal written critique of that literature will be due the end of the following week. Lodish et al., 6th Edition, is the recommended text but there are several others on reserve in the library. Any other materials, e.g. reviews, etc, will be provided by the relevant instructors as hard copies or electronically on Moodlerooms.
Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology Program (Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Studies)
Environment, Oceans, and Humans: The Inextricable Relationship between Climate Change, Marine Environment, and Human Health (MCBP 746)
Course Director: Satomi Kohno., (
This course introduces students to some of the topical issues in marine and environmental sciences as they relate to Human Health. The course shows the application of cell and molecular biology and epidemiology approaches to environmentally relevant questions that ultimately impact human health. These topics are put into context of the reports of the International Panel on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the latest Bali summit. In addition students will participate in learning how results from research in environmental cell and molecular science are synthesized with economics and law to form public policy. The role of federal and SC state government agencies in these processes will be presented through the appropriate representatives of these agencies on the Ft. Johnson campus. This is a course that includes students reading scientific papers, lay communications, and books in conjunction with active class participation through discussions on topical issues.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Graduate Histology and Introduction to Histopathology (PATH 789)
Course Director: Victori Findlay, Ph.D. (
Students will learn to visualize the microscopic architecture of the human/animal body. A main goal is to teach basic and organ histology as a prerequisite for graduate student participation in a general pathology course. For graduate students in fields other than pathology the course will provide a practical understanding of histology. The primary resource for this course is WebMic, a Virtual Microscope and a Companion Manual of Histology Exercises. Webmic mimics the use of the microscope in learning histology. Emphasis will be placed on guided self-directed learning with ample opportunity for interaction with faculty through direct viewing of specimens with microscopes, the use of dual viewing microscopes, and TV microscopy. This course, including oral and written examinations, will be managed and administered online via Moodlerooms.


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