Course Trailer

About this course

DNA encodes our genetic information and is passed on within cells to maintain living organisms and to produce the next generation. The recognition of DNA as the genetic material and the ensuing identification of its structure and coding mechanism were both revolutionary and foundational. These discoveries led to transformational integration across the biological sciences with a common understanding of this fundamental unit of life! Join this exploration of DNA structure, packaging, replication, and manipulation.

The course utilizes video lectures, research articles, case studies, and molecular models to convey information. The course grade will be based on questions with each video lecture, quizzes, homework, and a final exam.

What you’ll learn

  • Methods that identified DNA as the genetic material
  • Structure of DNA and methods for packaging DNA into the cell
  • Impacts of packaging on DNA expression in higher organisms and passage of information with no change in DNA (epigenetics)
  • Location-specific DNA expression in the cell
  • Machinery for replicating DNA with an extremely low error rate
  • Place of origin and timing for DNA replication
  • Mechanisms for “preserving” the ends of linear DNA
  • Types of damage that affect DNA structure and how DNA moves around
  • Procedures to amplify DNA sequences and to determine base sequence
  • Enzymes to fragment DNA into specific segments that can be separated
  • Methods to recombine DNA segments from different sources
  • Ways to introduce recombined DNA into cells, including human cells


High school chemistry and biology and BIOC300.1x OR understanding and knowledge of protein structure and function.

Professor Information

Picture of Dr. Daniel J. Catanese

Dr. Daniel J. Catanese

Dr. Catanese received his Ph.D. from Rice University and did his postdoctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine on topoisomerases and DNA dynamics/structure. Dr. Catanese has lectured for graduate courses at Baylor College of Medicine and associate courses at the

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Picture of Dr. Kathy Matthews

Dr. Kathy Matthews

Dr. Matthews received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and joined the faculty at Rice University following post-doctoral work at Stanford. She has served as Department Chair and as Dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences at

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Picture of Dr. Liz Eich

Dr. Liz Eich

Liz Eich is a Professor in the Practice, Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Asstistant Director of the RESST Program and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Program In Writing & Communication Dr. Eich received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Genetics from Texas

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