Introduction to Genetics


At the biological core of all life on Earth is the gene. The unique combination of genes in each individual ultimately forms the basis for that person's physical appearance, metabolic capacity, thought processes, and behavior. Therefore, in order to understand how life develops and functions, it is critical to understand what genes are, how they work, and how they are passed on from parents to offspring. In this course, we will begin by investigating the theories of inheritance first put forth by Mendel and then progress to our current concepts of how genes are transmitted through individuals, families, and whole populations. We will also examine chromosome structure and the molecular functions of genes and DNA—and how mutations in DNA can lead to physical abnormalities and diseases such as Down’s and Turner’s syndromes or hemophilia. Finally, we will discuss the role of genetics in influencing such complex phenotypes as behavior and intelligence. Classes will be supplemented with weekly laboratory work.