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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Undergraduate Studies

Biology Major (B.S.) Area of Concentration Option

As an alternative to the upper-level requirements for a Biology B.S. degree (see Major Requirements 5-8), students may choose an Area of Concentration (AoC).  AoCs help students develop additional expertise in specific areas of Biology and may require additional coursework.

Biology of Disease | Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics | Integrative and Organismal Biology

Biology of Disease

Everyday we hear about disease through personal interactions and media outlets. Whether it is cancer, Ebola virus, or the issues surrounding vaccination, we hear the term “disease.” But, what is a disease and how does it occur? In simple terms a disease can be defined as a disorder of structure or function of an organism that is not a direct result of physical injury. The manifestation of disease is a direct consequence of a disruption of function of a biological system at a molecular and cellular level.

In this area of concentration, students will have the opportunity to:

  • explore the causes of diseases of animals (including humans) and plants,
  • investigate the molecular mechanisms that lead to disease,
  • study the immune responses that facilitate recovery and protection,
  • examine the mechanism of action of disease therapies, and
  • investigate the physiological and ecological factors that influence the frequency of disease occurrence.

In order to achieve proficiency in the concentration, students must integrate an understanding of molecular and cellular biology with microbiology and immunology as well as recognize the importance of interactions within populations and ecosystems.

Graduates of the Biology of Disease concentration will be well situated to pursue a wide range of careers in health-related professions, biological and medical research, lab-based quality control and diagnostics, public and global health, science policy, law and intellectual property, business, education, and science writing.

In order to complete a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Biology of Disease, students are required to complete 18 upper division credits in Biology or Biology-approved classes in addition to all other degree requirements (Gen Ed, CASE, Biology core, etc.).

The 18 credits will be fulfilled from the courses below and in the manner described:

Required Lecture Courses

Two of the following lectures (6 cr):

BIOL-M 380 Microbiology of Infectious Disease (3 cr)
BIOL-L 312 Cell Biology (3 cr)
BIOL-L 321 Principles of Immunology (3 cr)
BIOL-L 328 Disease Ecology and Evolution (3 cr)

Elective Lecture Courses

Two of the following lectures, at least one from "Advanced Skills" list (courses must be different from those taken to fulfill the requirement above):

BIOL-B 351 Fungi (3 cr)
BIOL-L 312 Cell Biology (3 cr)
BIOL-L 321 Principles of Immunology (3 cr)
BIOL-M 430 Virology Lecture (3 cr)
BIOL-Z 373 Entomology (3 cr)
BIOL-P 451 Integrative Human Physiology (4 cr)
MSCI-M 480/M580 Molecular Biology of Cancer: Cell Signaling and Fate (3 cr)
MSCI-M 485 Physiology of Human Disease (4 cr)

Advanced Skills
BIOL-L 412 Analysis of Cancer Research (3 cr)
BIOL-L 317 Developmental Biology (change to 400-level) (3 cr)
BIOL-L 411 Epigenetics, Chromosomes, and Disease (3 cr)
BIOL-L 416 Biology of AIDS (3 cr)
BIOL-M 380 Microbiology of Infectious Disease (3 cr)
BIOL-M 440 Medical Microbiology* (3 cr)
BIOL-Z 466 Endocrinology (3 cr)
BIOL-L 472 Microbial Ecology (3 cr)

*For Biology students, we will allow BIOL-M 380 to substitute in place of BIOL-M 250 as a prerequisite.

Laboratory Courses

At least two of the following lab courses (courses must be different from those taken to fulfill the requirements above):

BIOL-B 352 Fungi: Laboratory (2 cr)
BIOL-L 324 Human Molecular Biology Laboratory (3 cr)
BIOL-M 315 Microbiology Laboratory (2 cr) [formerly M255]
BIOL-M 435 Viral Tissue Culture Laboratory (3 cr)
BIOL-M 445 Medical Microbiology: Laboratory (3 cr)
BIOL-P 451 Integrative Human Physiology (4 cr)
BIOL-Z 373 Entomology (3 cr)
BIOL-Z 375 Invertebrate Zoology Laboratory (2 cr)
BIOL-Z 469 Endocrinology Laboratory (3 cr)


BIOL-L 410 Topical Issues in Biology (2 or 3 cr) may be used towards the area of concentration, depending on the topic covered and with approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

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