The Molecular and Cellular Biology concentration emphasizes the intersection of modern research in cellular biology with medicine and society. It is rooted in the investigation of biological processes based on the study of molecules and their interactions in the context of cells and tissues, and in understanding how the vast information context of the genome orchestrates the behavior of the cell. MCB is therefore ideally suited for students who wish to study molecular and cellular processes at the heart of both normal physiology and disease. It focuses on fundamental principles of modern biology at the hub of nearly all life science sub-disciplines, and integrates many different methodologies ranging from chemistry and genetics to computer science and engineering, as well as fundamental concepts in physics and mathematics.
MCB concentrators will acquire an understanding of scientific methods as they explore a wide range of contemporary subjects, including genomics, systems biology, immunology, cancer biology, the microbiome, global health and infectious disease. Students will also have the opportunity to tackle subjects of a more applied nature, such as drug design, personalized medicine and biotechnology.
Through coursework and hands-on research, students in the concentration will have the opportunity to explore many of the central questions in modern biology and medicine. The MCB faculty is dedicated to supporting undergraduate research, and we encourage students to join the laboratory of an MCB faculty member or a laboratory in one of the affiliated Centers, at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and affiliated institutes. We consider the senior thesis to be the capstone academic experience, and the concentration will provide extensive support to seniors to make thesis writing an enriching experience.
The Board of Tutors in Biochemical Sciences, which was established in 1926, runs the Tutorial program for the Molecular and Cellular Biology concentration and the Chemical and Physical Biology concentration. The tutorial program offers individualized instruction to all concentrators beginning at the time of declaration. Concentrators typically meet with their tutors every two weeks and discuss primary research literature in a small group or one-on-one setting. Mentoring on career choices, the research experience, and other academic matters is a logical extension of the tutorial. The tutorial is not taken for credit and therefore does not appear on the study card or transcript. The Head Tutor and Concentration Adviser make all tutorial assignments and are available throughout the academic year to answer questions from students or their tutors. A handout that describes the history, goals, and format of the tutorial program is available on the web.