Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Group

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BMB 560 - Methods of Scientific Inquiry in Biological Sciences

Spring, every year

Course Directors: David Wilson, Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Biophysics) and Zoltan Domotor, Ph.D.(Philosophy)

Aims of the course: (1 credit) This course introduces advanced undergraduate, graduate and medical students to methodological and ethical aspects of scientific research by: a) examining the basic methodologies of experimental research, concept and hypothesis formation; and b) following the conceptual development of selected fields of biomedical sciences from their phenomenological to molecular stages with special regards to strategies in experimental design and hypothesis formation. The course consists of one lecture and one discussion session each week

Prerequisites: graduate students in biological sciences or permission of instructors.

Course format: Lectures introducing each topic are followed by discussions of relevant materials by the students.

Textbooks (will be on reserve at the Biomedical Library):

Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine by Claude Bernard
Advice to Young Scientists by Peter Medawar
Discovery and Explanation in Biology and Medicine by Kenneth Schaffner

All lectures will include supplementary handouts. Students will be asked to prepare a shorter midterm paper and a fifteen-page final paper with a topic chosen by the student, analyzing and/or critically evaluating the conceptual or experimental development of a specific biomedical research result. Grading will be based on course participation, contribution to class discussions, and quality of submitted term papers.