Genetics and Genomic Sciences

The UAB Undergraduate Program in Genetics and Genomic Sciences (GGS) is an interdisciplinary major between the Department of Genetics in the School of Medicine and the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Genetics refers to study of genes and their roles in inheritance, while genomics describes investigations of large sets of genes or gene products, up to and including the entire genome. Genetics is one of the most important fields in biological sciences, and affects all aspects of our lives. There have been major breakthroughs in the fields of genetics and genomics during the last decade, and this has created a significant need for individuals with training in these cutting-edge disciplines.

The central goals of the GGS undergraduate major is to provide students with a strong educational and research background and prepare them to become accomplished research scientists, clinicians, and health-care professionals who will be equipped with the knowledge to contribute to future discoveries in genetics and genomics. Our faculty, through their strong academic and research experience and expertise in the fields of genetics and genomic sciences, will help students accomplish these goals through the following mechanisms: 

  • Academic coursework - students are provided with a strong academic and intellectual foundation through coursework in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, genetics, and genomics.
  • Authentic research experience – Qualified students are offered opportunities to perform laboratory research under the direction of faculty mentors to learn cutting-edge experimental approaches and innovative methods in genetics and genomics research.
  • Mentoring and career guidance - students are provided with academic and career counseling to identify graduate and professional programs, or jobs most suited to their interests.

Admissions

The GGS program is designed for graduating high school seniors and college freshmen or sophomores with a strong academic record and the motivation to pursue a career in the biomedical sciences.

Advising and Information

Dr. Daniel Bullard
Co-Director, Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Professor, Department of Genetics
(205) 934-7768
dcbullard@uab.edu

Dr. Asim Bej
Co-Director, Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Professor, Department of Biology
(205) 934-9857
abej@uab.edu

Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Genomic Sciences

For a BS degree in Genetics and Genomic Sciences, you must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 120 semester hours including the follwoing:

RequirementsHours
BY 123Introductory Biology I4
BY 124Introductory Biology II4
BY 210Genetics3
BY 330Cell Biology3
Genetics and Genomic Sciences courses 1
GGSC 310Genome Structure and Organization3
GGSC 320Colloquium in Genetics and Genomics Science1
GGSC 410Genetic Basis of Human Disease3
GGSC 420Applications of Bioinformatics3
GGS/BY Electives (select at least 2 from the list below)6
Model Systems for Genetics Disorders
Personalized Genomic Medicine
Evolution
Principles of DNA Technology
Epigenetics
Functional Genomics and Systems Biology
Comparative Developmental Biology
Total Hours30
1

 A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required

Required for Genetics and Genomic Sciences Honors Students

To successfully complete the GGS Honors Program you will need to: 

  • Take 6-9 semester hours of GGSC 390 Honors Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences. Each semester hour per term requires a minimum of 3 hours of laboratory work per week.
  • Complete the required Occupational Health and Safety training courses.
  • Submit a formal research proposal by the end of the first semester of Honors Research. The proposal should include a synopsis of the proposed research incorporating an introduction, proposed methods, and relevant literature review.
  • Take the Honors Research Seminar in Genetics and Genomic Sciences (GGSC 493) course during the junior or senior year. This course can be completed during the first semester after completion of the research project, or alternatively can be taken concurrently with GGS Honors Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences (GGSC 390) during the student’s final semester. Can also be taken to fulfill the Capstone requirement.
  • Complete a formal written report in the form of a scientific paper.
  • Submit an oral or poster presentation at Biology Research Day or the UAB Expo during their junior or senior year. Under special circumstances, the poster may be presented at other times of the year pending approval of the Program Directors.

Honors Eligibility

To be accepted into the Genetics and Genomic Sciences Honors Program, you must: 

  • Have completed at least 45 credit hours
  • Have a 3.5 GPA in GGSC and Biology courses
  • Have a 3.2 GPA overall
  • Have already completed BY 123 and 123L, BY 124 and 124L, BY 210, CH 115/116, and CH 117/118
  • Honors Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences can also be taken as part of the University Honors Programs.  GGS majors generally enter their research labs in the fall semester of their junior year; however, they may begin their research work in the spring semester of their sophomore year or earlier with permission of the Program Directors.
  • Qualified non-Honors students will be encouraged, but not required to participate in research as part of their GGS BS degree. Non-Honors students must receive permission from the Program Directors before entering a research lab. In addition, they must complete all of the requirements listed above. However, these students will register for the GGSC 380 Undergraduate Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences and GGSC 492 Undergraduate Research Seminar in Genetics and Genomic Sciences courses.
Freshman
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
CAS 1121BY 124
124L
4
BY 123
123L
4CH 117
CH 118
4
CH 115
CH 116
4EH 1023
EH 1013PHL 1163
Core Curriculum Area II or IV3 
 15 14
Sophomore
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
BY 2103GGSC 3103
GGSC 32011GGSC 32011
CH 235
CH 236
4BY 3303
MA 1254CH 237
CH 238
4
Core Curriculum Area II or IV3Core Curriculum Area II or IV3
 15 14
Junior
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
GGSC 4103GGSC 4203
GGSC 32011GGSC 32011
GGSC 380 or 3901-3GGSC 380 or 3901-3
MA 1803CH 4603
General Elective Course3General Elective Course3
Core Curriculum Area II or IV3Core Curriculum Area II or IV3
 14-16 14-16
Senior
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
Elective - Choose from approved GGSC/BY 400-level courses2 Elective - Choose from approved GGSC/BY 400-level courses23
GGSC 32011GGSC 32011
GGSC 380 or 3901-3GGSC 492 or 4933
PH 201 or 2214PH 202 or 2224
Core Curriculum Area II or IV3Core Curriculum Area II or IV3
 General Elective Course (5 credit hours, 2 credit hours if taking Honors or Non-Honors Senior Seminar)5
 9-11 19
Total credit hours: 114-120
1

GGS majors must take the Colloquium in Genetics and Genomics (GGSC 320 course; 1 credit hour per semester) at least 4 times

2

Approved GGSC/BY 400-level courses: BY 437, BY 429, BY 431,BY 434, BY 475, GGSC 490, GGSC 491

*One of the following courses must be taken to fulfill the Capstone Requirement: GGSC 490, GGSC 491, GGSC 492 or GGSC 493.

Courses

GGSC 101. Your Genome. 3 Hours.

Advances in genetics and genomics, and especially the sequencing of the human genome, are making it possible to customize medical care to the specific needs of an individual. This course will introduce students to basic concepts in genetics and genomic sciences, as well as familiarize them with the various tools available that enable personalization of healthcare. Students from a wide range of disciplines with minimum scientific background can participate, and there is no required textbook. This course is intended for non-Genetics and Genomic Sciences majors.

GGSC 201. Research Experience in Molecular Genetics. 3 Hours.

A course-based authentic research experience with the CRISPR-Cas9 technology (programmable nucleases) to make genetic modifications in a model organism.

GGSC 250. Special Topics in Genetics and Genomics Sciences. 3 Hours.

Covers different topics including fundamentals and applications in the fields of genetics and genomics.

GGSC 310. Genome Structure and Organization. 3 Hours.

This course will cover the general concepts of genomics including gene structure and function, genomic technologies and their applications, and comparative genomics.
Prerequisites: BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and CH 117 [Min Grade: C] and CH 118 [Min Grade: C]

GGSC 320. Colloquium in Genetics and Genomics Science. 1 Hour.

Faculty-led seminar course that exposes students to cutting edge research topics and career opportunities in the fields of genetics and genomics. Students will read assigned articles and be prepared for discussion.

GGSC 350. Special Topics in Genetics and Genomics Sciences. 3 Hours.

Covers different topics including fundamentals and applications in the fields of genetics and genomics.

GGSC 355. Independent Study in Genetics and Genomics Sciences. 1-3 Hour.

In-depth study of fundamentals and applications in the fields of genetics and genomics under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Permission of Instructor Only.

GGSC 380. Undergraduate Research in Genetics and Genomics Sciences. 1-3 Hour.

Research project for non-GGS Honors students under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. May be repeated for a total of 9 semester credit hours in a 2 or 3 semester period.

GGSC 390. Honors Research in Genetics and Genomics Sciences. 1-3 Hour.

Research project for GGS Honors students under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. May be repeated for a total of 9 semester credit hours in a 2 or 3 semester period.

GGSC 410. Genetic Basis of Human Disease. 3 Hours.

This course will focus on the medical applications of genetics and genomic technologies. Topics covered include, but are not limited to major forms of chromosomal abnormalities, mutations and genetic disorders, genetic risk assessment and population genetics, and genomic approaches to diagnosis.

GGSC 420. Applications of Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Introduction to computational tools and bioinformatics databases used in the fields of genetics and genomic sciences. This course will cover a wide variety of different bioinformatics applications, which will be taught through use of available on-line bioinformatics resources. Topics covered include large-scale genomic databases, sequence analysis systems, protein sequence analysis, structural bioinformatics, protein folding, and homology modeling.
Prerequisites: BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and CH 117 [Min Grade: C] and CH 118 [Min Grade: C]

GGSC 490. Model Systems for Genetics Disorders. 3 Hours.

Invertebrate and non-human vertebrate species are commonly used in scientific research work to provide significant insights into human genetic processes and disease. This course focuses on the different methods and strategies by which researchers use these systems for genetic and genomic analyses of human biology and relevant disorders. Model organisms covered include, but are not limited to nematodes (C. elegans), fruit flies (Drosophila sp.), zebrafish (Danio rerio), and mice (Mus musculus). Capstone course (GGS majors). Students who enroll in this class as their capstone experience are expected to do writing and ethics assignments to fulfill their capstone requirement.
Prerequisites: BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and CH 117 [Min Grade: C] and CH 118 [Min Grade: C]

GGSC 491. Personalized Genomic Medicine. 3 Hours.

Significant developments in the fields of genetics and genomics are making it possible to tailor medical care to the specific needs of patients. New diagnostic tests, up to and including whole genome sequencing, provide increasingly powerful tools for the identification of the genetic basis of both rare and common disorders. Better understanding of the causes of disease are permitting drugs to be developed that precisely target disease mechanisms, increasing the efficacy and avoiding side effects. These and other new advanced are leading to major changes in healthcare delivery and provide the consumer with new opportunities and complex choices. This course will focus on exploring state-of-the-art genetic, genomic, and informatic tools now available to enable personalization of healthcare. Capstone course (GGS majors). Students who enroll in this class are expected to do writing and ethics assignments to fulfill their capstone requirement.
Prerequisites: BY 210 [Min Grade: C] and CH 117 [Min Grade: C] and CH 118 [Min Grade: C]

GGSC 492. Undergraduate Research Seminar in Genetics and Genomic Sciences. 3 Hours.

Elective course for non-GGS Honors students who perform at least two semesters of GGSC 380. Over the course of the semester, students will learn how to develop and complete a paper or thesis on their research work while working closely with a supervising faculty member. In addition, the course will prepare them to present their research findings in a seminar format. Through these activities, students will develop effective skills in both written and oral scientific communication. Students will present a formal seminar on their research at the end of the course. This course can be taken the first semester following the completion of the research project, or alternatively can be taken concurrently with Undergraduate Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences (GGSC 380) during the student’s final semester of supervised research. Designated a Capstone course (GGS majors).

GGSC 493. Honors Research Seminar in Genetics and Genomic Sciences. 3 Hours.

All GGS Honors students are required to take this weekly course. Over the course of the semester, students will learn how to develop and complete a paper or thesis on their research work while working closely with a supervising faculty member. In addition, the course will prepare them to present their research findings in a seminar format. Through these activities, students will develop effective skills in both written and oral scientific communication. Students will present a formal seminar on their research at the end of the course. This course can be taken the first semester following the completion of the research project, or alternatively can be taken concurrently with Honors Research in Genetics and Genomic Sciences (GGSC 390) during the student’s final semester of supervised research. Can be taken as a Capstone course (GGS majors).