260.852.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 1st Term | 2 Credit(s)
WF 9:00:00 AM
  • Contact Information
    J.-Marie Hardwick
  • Course Learning Objectives

    Information not required for this course type

    • • Strengthen knowledge of Molecular Biology methods and topics that underlie both MMI and future SOM courses. • Rapidly progressing chronological trek from early classic papers to current topics. • Discuss details of the methodologies being applied in the paper, which they will hear about during future coursework and departmental seminars. • Develop strategies for critically reviewing the literature (e.g. the limitations of the experiments and methods being discussed). • Provide opportunity for personal contact between MMI faculty and 1st year students. • Establish a relaxed environment for open discussion and foster team effort among class members.
  • Course Description
    Reviews and discusses, in depth, historic and current publications in the field of molecular biology. Required of departmental students concurrently enrolled in ME 260.800, Molecular Biology.
  • Intended Audience
    First year MMI PhD and ScM students
  • Methods of Assessment
    Students evaluated on their preparation of reading assignments.
  • Prerequisites


  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • 'Letter to Your Students'

    Molecular Biology Literature - Students

    Course is designed for first year MMI graduate students to provide an introduction to critical review of scientific literature by focusing on understanding the details of a range of experimental methods in classic molecular biology that underlie more advanced molecular microbiology.


    • Be prepared for class! Start reading the assigned paper several days before class so that you have time to digest the material and can explain any of the figure panels if called upon. Coming to class without studying the paper will make it very difficult to contribute to the discussion or even to follow along.


    • Student Leaders are strongly encouraged to meet (~1 hr) with the faculty mentor to discuss the assigned paper several days prior to class (arranged by the student leader) to discuss the background, rationale, technical/scientific questions, and to construct a series of questions that the student leader will use to stimulate class discussion.


    • Course evaluation criteria:


    Student Leader

    1.    Present a clear introduction (5-10 min) at the start of class that covers the background, big picture, rationale and major hypothesis being addressed, including the impact on the field (usually beyond the Introduction section of the paper). Try drawing an outline of the pathway/hypothesis under study on the board while speaking (powerpoints are optional).

    2.    Explain/draw on the board the main experimental strategy for reference during class.

    3.    Divide the figures/tables into ~5 parts, one for each of 5 student groups assigned by arbitrary numbering on daily signin sheet. Allow 5-10 min for student groups to discussion their shared assignments for presentation; answer students’ questions. Reconvene class promptly.

    4.    Solid grasp of the material; can usually answer questions knowledgeably.

    5.    Stop class members from glossing over the details. If it took you several minutes (days) to grasp the deeper meaning of a particular experiment, it is doubtful that all class members can grasp the material in less time. Remember that just because one student knows the answer to your question does not mean that any other class members are following the same logic.

    6.    Prepare discussion questions to probe the class after the data have been presented, including questions about the implications of the findings being reported, limitations of the experimental approaches and alternative interpretations. On or before the day of your presentation, upload your questions to the Drop Box at CoursePlus (submissions after the due date are for corrections only), or if you have difficulties with the site, email course coordinator Patricia Bazemore  (E5001) and instructor J. Marie Hardwick (E5140).

    7.    Facilitate discussion by asking questions; do not present figures/tables yourself except to clarify.


    Student participants

    1.    Read the paper thoroughly in advance, usually requiring two or more readings.

    2.    Participate and ask questions at every class session (“How can they conclude that … without controlling for—?”). Participating faculty have to mark on a “grade” sheet whether each student participated in the Discussion.

    3.    Be prepared in advance to explain the results in most of the figures/tables.

    4.    When presenting a figure, summarize the new knowledge gained in addition to describing the data. (For example: rather than ending with, “the 26 kD band is present in lane 3 as expected”, listeners will benefit more by adding: “therefore, the authors concluded that … and perhaps extend this thought with: “but this may not be true because they didn’t show …”; or “It seems unlikely that this is the only mechanism because …”).

    5.    Attendance is required; any missed class must be made-up by submitting written answers to the Student Leader’s questions regarding the paper you missed. Grades will not be submitted prior to completion.

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at