Skip Navigation

11:115:321: Ethics in Biochemical Research

(3 credits)


This is a lecture/seminar course offered in both Spring and Fall semesters.

Prerequisites and Registration Restrictions

Prerequisites: General Biology (01:119:101/102) or equivalent.

For Pre-requisite overrides or Special Permission contact the Instructor.


Two 80-minute lectures per week.


This course will address ethical issues in biochemistry, with some focus on genetics and molecular biology.  The course will consist of lectures by the professor, as well as student presentations on selected topics.  Issues to be covered will include the ethics of recombinant DNA technology, of genetically modified plants and animals, of stem cell use, scientific patents, and of creating DNA databases.  Other topics will include the political use of genetics and evolutionary paradigms, and the use of fraudulent data and “pseudo science”, and how these tools can be used to sway public opinion. Important issues facing scientists and students currently will also be discussed, such as plagiarism . data manipulation and consequences of the biotechnology revolution.

Topics Covered

Vary from year to year, but include issues of plagiarism, biotechnology and society, genetic engineering, scientific misconduct, as well as current issues in the media relating to biochemistry.

Course Book

No textbook is required for this course.

Learning Goals

Students will learn to discuss controversial issues in biochemistry, and be able to express themselves in both verbal and written formats.


There are no examinations in this course.

Other Requirements

Students will be assessed on the basis of several short essays on assigned topics, and an oral presentation.


A detailed syllabus will be available at the first class meeting and posted on the course Sakai page.