Body and Behavior Concentration & Electives

Body and Behavior Concentration

Use your imagination to picture the Earth from a satellite. Now zoom in – to our region, Western Pennsylvania, to a lake or river, to a single organism like a fish, to cells, and finally to DNA on which life depends. In the B&B concentration you learn about various levels of organization of life. At all levels there is a focus on the idea of maintaining balance, which includes learning how systems sense and change in response to the environment. Living things require energy to maintain balance and to carry out other function necessary for life.

You and your classmates begin by studying molecules like DNA and proteins that form the biochemical basis of life. The processes that involve these molecules, and in particular DNA, are thought of in a very powerful way – as genetic systems that involve information transfer. DNA codes life’s information with each subsequent generation relying on the previous one. Transferring information means passing it on, and understanding this requires you to learn about the conservation and history of genetic information.

You also spend considerable time learning about cell parts and functions. Groups of cells work together with certain functions in multi-cellular organisms like human beings. Our bodies also have organs, and systems of organs like the respiratory system that includes the lungs, or the digestive system that includes the stomach. Bringing it all together you learn about the mutations and selection pressures that are the mechanisms of evolution. Over very long periods of time single cell organisms have evolved into the diversity of life we see around us. How did all these living things form? And how is it that every place on the surface of the Earth has life, even the coldest or warmest, darkest or lightest, wettest or most dry?

In the capstone course you work in small teams on real research questions in biotechnology. A host of researchers in the Pittsburgh area contribute aspects of their own work to define the projects of the course.

From tissue regeneration to disease transmission, you tackle the most relevant challenges in this rapidly changing area of science. Challenging projects and focused classes prepare you and your classmates for the types of real problems you might face in career fields as diverse as biotechnology, bioengineering, and medicine.

 


 

Body and Behavior Course Offerings

Advanced Topics
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Semester (quarter 3 and 4)
Credit: .5

This course will provide an intensive approach to the biomedical sciences, specifically in the multi-disciplinary field of biology, biotechnology, anatomy and physiology. This course is designed to complete the preparation for the life sciences Executive Experience and to prepare the students for the Advanced Placement exam in biology if they wish to take it.  This course evolves based on student interest with a focus on Anatomy and Physiology and diseases that affect these organ system. Students that can connect concepts across the curriculum are better prepared to begin their undergraduate careers and will have the prerequisite skills needed for careers in health sciences. Students will be introduced to the world of databases and be able to link them to gene expression profiles on an organism level.

Cellular Communication and Signaling
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

Students will explore the complex system of cellular communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cellular actions within an organism. Topics will include cell structure and function, cell membrane, proteins, receptor function and structure, regulatory enzymes, informational processing, and the signaling pathways that govern growth and differentiation. Students will focus on the brain and nervous system in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh

Forensics
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

In this course students with study human anatomy and basic physiology and apply those skills to areas focused in forensic science. Students will specifically study: forensic anthropology, osteology, odontology, forensic science, laboratory analysis, field methods, and how to write reports. In addition, they will use biotechnology skills to investigate mock crime scenes. Students will also learn the large scale applications of forensic science such as: disasters, human rights, and POW/MIS recovery. This class is primarily a “hands-on” lab based class.  This is an elective course.

Genetics
Level: Final Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of genetics, in particular how they affect the world surrounding the students.  The course is project based, with additional labs added for supplemental learning.  Through this course the students will not only be able to understand the genetic terms and principles used in medical practices, but also the current research being discussed in the scientific community.  This is an elective course.

Genetics and Heredity
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

Students will engage in an active understanding of the molecular basis of life specifically the relationship of DNA, RNA and protein. Through inquiry based learning approaches, this course will lay the ground work for the subsequent curriculum on the specifics of how DNA and protein expression govern our life’s processes. Students will implement some of the technical skills learned in the introductory biotechnology course to study the mechanisms of adaptation and behavior and to understand how alteration of our DNA can affect our lives – specifically through genetic mutations.  In addition, students will examine their own DNA for polymorphisms used in the real world to identify the ability to tolerate lactose, why vegetables taste bitter and the genetic relatedness of our species.

Human Pathology
Level: Final Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

This course explores the concepts of human anatomy through the lens of Pathology.  Pathology is the study of how and why the body develops abnormal structures or functions improperly.  Through the study of pathogens, students will have to learn the way the body is supposed to function.  After learning how the body is supposed to function or look, and how a pathogen causes a change, students will understand why particular treatments are recommended for particular pathogens.  This course provides a connection between the life sciences and the physical sciences.  The project for this course will allow the students to research extensively a new treatment option for a disease or pathogen, and present the class with their findings. This is an elective course.

Infectious Diseases and Immunity
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

Students will investigate infectious diseases and how they function including disease classification, agents and host pathogens, disease transmission, infections and symptoms, and the concept and knowledge of resistance and immune responses of humans to infection. The role of phagocytic cells, complement, lymphocytes, the development of humoral and cell mediated immunity at the molecular, cellular, and organ level will be covered along with methods of developing vaccines and potential drug therapies.  Students will read the text THE HOT ZONE which outlines the ebola virus outbreak in the 1960’s through 2015 and be able to identify the important components of managing an outbreak.

Interdependence of Microorganisms
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

Students will master the basic principles of understanding and working with microorganisms.  Students will learn the structure and function of bacteria, how to grow bacteria, identify bacteria, treat bacteria with antibiotics and design their own research experiment to study microorganisms in our environment.  These concepts and skills will be related to diseases and function.

Introduction to Biotechnology
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit: .5

This course will be the starting point for a challenging and rewarding career in the high-tech field of biotechnology and the life sciences. An introduction to how biotechnology works, what laboratory techniques are used, what products are being made, what jobs in biotechnology are like, and what challenges biotechnology companies and laboratories here in the Pittsburgh area are working on will be emphasized. Students will develop good laboratory practice skills and be exposed first-hand to laboratory techniques such as micropipeting, gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction, DNA restriction enzymes, molecular cloning, genetic engineering, DNA fingerprinting, bioinformatics, and other applied advanced techniques used in the biotechnology field.

Tissue Engineering
Level: Manager/Executive
Length: Quarter
Credit. .5

Regenerative medicine/tissue engineering is a rapidly growing multidisciplinary field that seeks to develop functional cell, tissue, and organ substitutes to repair, replace or enhance biological function that has been lost due to congenital abnormalities, injury, disease, or aging. Students will investigate the structural and functional differences exhibited by cells and tissues through various biotechnology techniques. Relationships will be developed from the cellular level to the organ level based on how engineered tissues can also be used in the life sciences.

 

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