Basic Seminar (Application of Genes and Genetic Information In Our Lives)

Sumie ISHIGURO Associate Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2011 Spring Monday
Recommended for: School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts / School of Informatics and Sciences (Natural Science Informatics) / School of Science / School of Agricultural Sciences / School of Engineering (I, III, IV, V) first year students

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Course Overview

These days, everyone knows the word ''genes''; technologies dealing with genes such as genetic modification, genetic diagnoses, and DNA fingerprints, are becoming very common. However, if asked about the relationship between genes and DNA, or the difference between red-flower genes and white-flower genes, there may not be many people who can answer correctly. In this basic seminar you will carry out ''genetic-modification'' experiments, where new genes are introduced to E. coli, and ''PCR'' experiments, in which particular genes are detected, to deepen your understanding of what genes are and what can be achieved by using genes.

Key Features

The concept of this basic seminar is "understanding with one's own hands and eyes". Recently, indifference to science has been pointed out, and school science classes lacking experiments and observations have been disliked.
On the other hand, TV programs showing science tricks and quizzes which make full use of movies are very popular. A feeling of wonder seems important for learning science, so I decided to give a class providing this. Science in books is interesting, but, as the saying "seeing is believing" goes, understanding through experiments is fundamental to science.

However, feeling wonder towards a thing does not equate to understanding its nature. In addition, a certain level of basic knowledge is necessary for understanding experiments. In this basic seminar we will repeat a cycle of seminars and presentations for acquiring basic knowledge, experiments, and discussion of experiment results, and thereby obtain a deeper understanding of genes.

Furthermore, this basic seminar consists of two parts. In the first part we will perform basic experiments, and in the second part we will conduct "project study", where we will plan a subject and perform applied experiments, for example, inspection of foods and other materials for contamination.

Anyone who thinks "I'm interested in genes but it seems difficult," or "I intend to get to know about genes by reading books, but I've never actually seen them," why don't you join this basic seminar and explore the world of genes?

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Course Objectives and Aims

This basic seminar aims to equip students with a deep understanding of genes by performing experiments using genes. The discipline of studying genes is molecular biology; if we compare genes with novels, textbooks of molecular biology are like grammar books. One cannot read a novel without knowing grammar, but if one only studies grammar one cannot understand the fun of reading a novel. In this basic seminar, while learning the minimum knowledge of molecular biology, we will directly examine what genes are and how they work.


1. Introduction

  • Orientation and lecture "Relationships between Genes and DNA"
  • Self-introduction presentation

2. Feel familiar with genes

We will try several basic experiments such as "transformation of E. coli", "DNA extraction from broccoli" and "detecting particular genes using the PCR method", in order to understand genes and DNA well.
Before each experiment, the student will learn the goal and procedure of the experiment and make a presentation on it. After the experiment, they will write a report on the results of the experiment and things to consider, and hold a session (discussion) using PowerPoint to think about the outcome of the experiment and how to give a clear explanation to aid others' understanding.

3. Project study -gain a deeper understanding of genes-

  • Students will be divided into groups, and each group will decide on a research topic.
  • Research method and theory, and decide which to use in the experiment, in order to solve the problem.
  • Conduct the experiment. Report on how well the plan is progressing and discuss the method and the direction of the research.
  • Make a presentation on the outcome of the research, and have a discussion.
  • Make a report on the results of the research and submit it.


p> The research problems will be those that can be solved using the "PCR method", which will be learned in the first half of the course. We will plan and conduct experiments, with advice from the instructor and the TA. In the session, we will consider how to give a clear explanation of the contents and results of the experiment. Then we will think about current and future applications of the outcome of the experiment in industrial and medical scenarios.



Course Requirements

No background requirements, as long as the student is interested in genes and experiments. Learning "Mendel's laws" in junior or senior high school is sufficient preparatory knowledge.

Course Schedule

Session Contents
1 Introduction/Library guidance
2 Self-introduction/Lecture "Basic knowledge of genes and DNA
3 Preparatory study for Experiment 1 (session)
4 Experiment 1/ Get-together
5 Review of Experiment 1/Lecture "Structure and Replication of DNA"
6 Preparatory study for Experiment 2 (session)
7 Experiment 2
8 Review of Experiment 2
9 Project study (planning/experiment/data organizing/preparation for the presentation) (1)
10 Project study (planning/experiment/data organizing/preparation for the presentation) (2)
11 Project study (planning/experiment/data organizing/preparation for the presentation) (3)
12 Project study (planning/experiment/data organizing/preparation for the presentation) (4)
13 Project study (planning/experiment/data organizing/preparation for the presentation) (5)
14 Presentation of project study
15 Summary


Participation in the experiment and discussion (40%), Presentation (30%), Report (30%)

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Page last updated March 21, 2012

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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