This Course at MIT

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 8.591J Systems Biology as it was taught by Jeff Gore, Latham Family Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics in Fall 2014.

This course provides an introduction to cellular and population-level systems biology with an emphasis on synthetic biology, modeling of genetic networks, cell-cell interactions, and evolutionary dynamics.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Understand how cells respond to the environment and process information in order to divide.
  • Explore how interactions between genes influence the decision-making of cells.
  • Examine how interactions between individuals shape how the population behaves in response to environmental pressures.
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

In addition, each weekly problem had a computational problem, so prior experience with a computational package such as MATLAB®, Mathematica®, or Python was expected. The “officially supported” package was be Python (sample code, etc), but students were able to do problems in any language.

Requirements Satisfied

GIR Science Core, Biology

Offered

Every fall semester

The Classroom

  • A classroom with sliding chalkboards at the front, and around 40 chairs arranged in arrows at long tables.

    Lecture

    This classroom has a 40 person capacity. The sliding chalkboards were used along with the LCD video projector.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by problem sets. 40% Problem sets
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by pre-class reading questions. 5% Pre-class reading questions
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the first midterm exam. 15% Midterm #1
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the second midterm exam. 15% Midterm #2
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the final exam. 25% Final exam
 

Student Information

26 students took this course when it was offered in Fall 2014.

Enrollment

Student enrollment was 26 in Fall 2014, and has ranged from 23-35 students in past years.

Breakdown by Year

2/3 graduate, 1/3 undergraduate

Breakdown by Major

1/3 physics, 1/3 biology, 1/3 biological engineering and chemistry

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class/Lecture

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 90 minute sessions; 24 sessions total, mandatory attendance.
  • In-class activities included multiple-choice concept questions and collaborative learning.
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
  • Students were required to submit answers to the pre-class reading questions online, prior to each lecture.
  • Students completed weekly problem sets for the course.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
3 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT; assignment duedate.
4 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
5 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
6 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
7 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; exam held. No session scheduled.
8 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
9 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
10 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
11 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; exam held. No session scheduled.
12 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
14 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment duedate.
15 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held. Exam
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when assignments are due. Assignment due date
 

Instructor Insights

Professor Jeff Gore

Jeff Gore, Latham Family Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics (Image by MIT OpenCourseWare).

In the following pages, Professor Jeff Gore describes various aspects of how he teaches 8.591J Systems Biology.