BIOL 219 (Fall)

Physical Biology of the Cell

A. Hendricks (Coordinator) McConnell 356 (514) 398-8925
J. Vogel
Bellini 269
(514) 398-5880
G. Brouhard Bellini 267 (514) 398-2984
4 credits (3-1-5)
1 year of college calculus, chemistry and physics or equivalents, BIOL 112 or equivalent
MATH 222 or equivalent    
Not open to students who have taken ANAT 212, BIOC 212, BIOL 200 and/or BIOL 201.
Open only to students in the following interdisciplinary programs: Major and Honors Quantitative Biology; Joint Major and Honors Computer Science and Biology; Joint Major in Biology and Math; Joint Major Physiology and Math; Joint Major Physiology and Physics; Major and Honors Biophysical Chemistry; and Major and Honors Biological Physics.

BIOL 219 is an introduction to molecular and cell biology using physical biology perspectives, and equally prepares interdisciplinary students for more advanced courses in the biological and physical sciences. Technologies and methodologies, both experimental and computational, are included in the presentation of each thematic module.

Module 1: Overview of physical biology
1.1. Overview of molecules and cells
1.2. Length and time scales relevant to molecular and cellular biology
1.3. Energy
1.4 Mechanical forces
1.5 Membranes

Module 2: Protein structure and function
2.1. Protein Structure
2.2. Protein folding
2.3. Binding and Enzyme Catalysis
2.4. Protein Regulation
2.5 Allostery

Module 3: Information storage and flow
3.1. Nucleic acid structure
3.2. Genomes
3.3. Prokaryotic transcription
3.4. Regulation of transcription
3.5. Eukaryotic transcription
3.6 mRNA processing
3.7. Translation

Module 4: Molecular self-assembly and transport
4.1. Physical properties of the cytoplasm
4.2. Phase separation
4.3. Polymerization
4.4. Diffusion
4.5. Molecular motors

Module 5: Cell cycle control
5.1. CDK oscillator
5.2. G1 phase
5.3. S phase
5.4. Mitosis
5.5 Checkpoints

Module 6: Cell signaling and polarity
6.1. Cell morphology
6.2. Intracellular signaling
6.3. Asymmetric cell division
6.4. Cell fate
6.5. Intercellular signaling

Module 7: Neuroscience
7.1. Neurons and electrical potential
7.2. Neurotransmitters
7.3. Circuits
7.4. Optogenetics

Course pack containing readings from Molecular Biology of the Cell by B. Alberts, Garland, 6th ed., 2014 and Physical Biology of the Cell by R. Philips, Garland, 2nd ed., 2012
3 Lectures plus 1 compulsory tutorial per week

Weekly quizzes, midterm and final exams

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: Nov. 22, 2019