The 21st century may well become known as the “Age of Biology.” The biotechnological revolution is well under way, and molecular and cell biologists are at the forefront of today’s modern advances in biology and medicine. Molecular and cell biologists study cells and molecules, but always with an understanding of how these crucial components are integrated into the biological whole.
In the last half of the 20th century a more complete understanding of the nature of proteins and nucleic acids revealed that individual cells function as “chemical factories” and that larger organisms are equivalent to complex economies. The very essence of any biological organism is encoded in its DNA, and its continuing existence and functional development depend on a delicate molecular ballet.
As the first of its kind in southeastern Michigan, Lawrence Technological University’s Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology is a comprehensive degree with an emphasis on the role of individual cells and molecules in influencing the biology of organisms, populations, and communities. An integrative program encompassing the breadth of biological disciplines, the BS in Molecular and Cell Biology prepares you for any of the multiple paths you may follow in biology.
Whether you are a student interested in studying biology in general, preparing for medical or other professional schools, or planning to pursue graduate studies in a biological discipline, the BS in Molecular and Cell Biology may be the degree for you.
1) How does molecular and cell biology differ from a traditional biology degree?
Traditional biology programs cover the broad spectrum of life sciences, from the very smallest scale of the cell and its constituent parts to the collective organization and behavior of large animal and plant populations. Such programs generally include junior and senior level courses in botany, zoology and ecology. While these topics are not neglected in Lawrence Tech's molecular and cell biology program, the focus remains on the microscopic and submicroscopic: the cell, its machinery and its underlying functionality. The molecular and cell biology program is designed to prepare its graduates to make immediate contributions in various areas of biotechnology.
2) How does chemical biology differ from a degree in molecular biology or in molecular and cell biology?
These disciplines have a lot in common. However, molecular biology is almost always taught as a sub-discipline of biology, often at the graduate level. The chemistry training in Lawrence Tech's chemical biology program is more extensive than in traditional molecular biology programs and prepares a student for graduate work in chemistry. For students with a stronger biology bent, Lawrence Tech has established new Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology. In some respects, this new degree is the mirror image of chemical biology: firmly rooted in the biological disciplines but with a heightened focus on the functioning of the cell and a stronger chemistry requirement than in traditional biology programs.
3) Do I have to decide which program is right for me in my freshman year?
No. Lawrence Tech's programs in chemical biology and in molecular and cell biology overlap extensively in the first two years. During this time, students will be exposed to topics in both disciplines which will ensure that they have the background to choose between the two programs. Students can switch majors in either direction as late as the junior year with only a minor reworking of their course schedules. However, the mathematics and physics requirements for chemical biology are somewhat higher than those for molecular and cell biology. Students who are unsure of which major to choose should follow the mathematics and physics sequence for chemical biology until a final decision is made.
4) Are there significant employment opportunities for molecular and cell biology graduates in Michigan?
The industry-education consortium, MichBio, has identified over 542 companies in the State of Michigan with substantial presence in the life sciences and biotechnology areas. Recently, this number has been increasing at a rate of 20 per year. About $2 billion are invested annually in these areas in Michigan. The State of Michigan has recently committed considerable funding to further encourage the growth of biotechnology within its borders. Of course molecular and cell biology graduates will be prepared to enter the health-related professions. With the aging population, these professionals will be in high demand. Thus, the prospects for employment for graduates are high and expected only to get better.
Molecular and cell biology is the area of biology focused on cells, the smallest living units within the biological continuum. Cells are inextricably linked to the larger biological systems of that they are part. In addition, cells are formed and shaped by atoms and molecules. It is this interaction of cells and molecules that gives cells their function and ultimately the properties of life. A rich understanding of both chemistry and biology are elemental to the study of molecular and cell biology.
Molecular and cell biologists, with their integrated training, are well-placed to perform as members of teams tackling some of the greatest biological problems that society faces in the 21st century: curtailing global warming, curing cancer and other diseases, remediating toxic waste, managing the aging process, developing environmentally friendly renewable energy sources, researching new treatments for disease and injuries, and creating sustainable consumer goods.
Your Future as a Molecular and Cell Biologist
Lawrence Tech has a strategic proximity to a hotbed of activity in the emerging biotechnology sector. With over $2 billion invested in research and development each year and nearly 100 new companies since 2000, Michigan leads the nation as one of the fastest growing states with respect to economic development in the life science industries.
This translates into co-op and internship opportunities for students and career opportunities after graduation. Whether you remain in Michigan or your career takes you elsewhere, graduates of the molecular and cell biology program at Lawrence Tech will be ideal candidates prepared to meet the need for well-trained, knowledgeable biologists.
• This is the only undergraduate molecular and cell biology program in the metropolitan Detroit area.
• Extensive laboratory experience that allows hands-on, practical skill acquisition using state-of-the-art tools of bio-technology.
• Lawrence Tech’s distinctive core curriculum requires courses in history, literature, philosophy, and mathematics, empowering graduates with real world reasoning, writing, and speaking skills.
• Courses are taught solely by faculty with current industry experience and are offered both during the day and in the evening, making it convenient for working professionals.
• Lawrence Tech's life science programs provide opportunities for co-op positions and internships in laboratories, hospitals, health care institutions, and the medical research industry.
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Lawrence Technological University alumna Nina Ahmad is one of 14 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders created by President Barack Obama in April.
A chemistry lab on the third floor of the Science Building at Lawrence Technological University has been dedicated to Jerry Crist, who is now a professor emeritus of chemistry after his retirement in December.