Course Spotlight: BIO 543 - Molecular Genetics and Genomics

November 15, 2022 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
In Arizona State University’s BIO 543 course, you’ll learn how genetic information can encode key features about organisms and why that has relevance to medicine, biotechnology, understanding our evolution and helping to conserve species for future generations.

In ASU Online’s BIO 543 course, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, you’ll gain an overview of genetics and genomics and, by the end of the course, have an understanding of the fundamentals of genetics.

“This is the biotech century," said Kenro Kusumi, professor and dean of natural sciences in Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “There's a tremendous need for different people to learn more about biology and particularly genetics to advance their careers.”

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Your instructor: Kenro Kusumi

Professor Kusumi holds a PhD in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2006, he helped launch the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, where he remains on the faculty in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences. Kusumi is also an adjunct faculty member at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), one of ASU’s clinical partners.

Kusumi believes this course is essential for biology students. “I started teaching this course because it's important that graduate students get an overview of where we are, what the states of the technology and our knowledge are, which changes all the time, but also what are the ways in which we think about solving problems from a genetics perspective,” he said.


How you’ll learn

You’ll learn the fundamentals of genetics primarily from online mini-lectures, videos and readings. There will also be frequent quizzes and open-book module exams, testing your comprehension of the genetic topics covered and ability to analyze data.

Discussion boards will also be a key part of the course. “We encourage students to use the discussion boards that are moderated by the instructors to ask questions and raise items in the news or of interest in the field of genetics,” said Kusumi.

Additionally, you’ll complete exercises that teach you to use R, the scripting language commonly used in bioinformatics, and develop skills to carry out genetic analysis.


What makes this course special

This course gives you the foundational knowledge and tools needed to succeed in these ever-evolving fields.

“[This course] helps you answer questions like: How do you solve that? How do you break things into pieces? How do you bring the pieces together? And that problem solving is probably the most useful thing for students to learn as this field continues to change,” said Kusumi.


What you’ll get out of BIO 543

Genetics is a field that’s constantly changing with new findings. BIO 543 gives you the foundational knowledge needed to interpret newly published research and medical results.

You’ll also learn where to get updates in this fast-moving field. There are several comprehensive web portals run by government agencies and research organizations for gene-based studies and you’ll be able to use these sites to stay updated as the state of knowledge advances.

Additionally, through the use of open-source R-based tools, you’ll be able to carry out cutting-edge genetics research, providing knowledge that can be expanded upon in future classes or self-study.

“Genetics and science is not a static field. So in this course, students will learn the skills of how to figure out what a problem is, break it into pieces and then develop a workflow to answer the questions that they have,” said Kusumi.

Master of Science in biology

Deepen your knowledge about the life sciences with a Master of Science in biology from ASU Online. Encompassing the study of all life, biology has broad applications from addressing public health challenges to climate change. An online master’s in biology can lead you to careers across industries that benefit from biological expertise.


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