Cell & Molecular Biology

Rapid advances in biology have had a major impact on our society. From the production of new drugs, to revolutionary advances in our understanding of how cells work, the areas of cell and molecular biology have contributed to our lives in a number of ways. Training in these areas is essential for careers in medicine, pharmacology, biochemistry, virology, immunology, developmental biology, and in a number of the high-tech industries. From agriculture to the space program, fundamental information from these areas has had enormous impact on the changes that have occurred in our generation.

Because of the importance of these areas of biology to many aspects of modern society there is great demand for coursework at colleges and universities in these subjects. At Duke, the majority of the science majors are aiming toward graduate or professional school. A growing number of these students are interested in training for research in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Because of its important role in today's biology, faculty in biology have designed an concentration in cell and molecular biology. Faculty in Biological Sciences and in the Basic Sciences of the Medical School also support this major. Students fulfilling the requirements of the Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology will receive a note on their official transcript.

Area Advisors

Area Advisors Area Faculty

Dr. Ryan Baugh, Department of Biology, ryan.baugh@duke.edu

Dr. David Sherwood, Department of Biology, david.sherwood@duke.edu

Dr. David McClay 

Baugh, Bejsovec, Benfey, K. Dong, X. Dong, Haase, He, Kiehart, McClay, Onishi, Pei, Schmid, D. Sherwood, N.T. Sherwood, Silva, Strader, Sun, Volkan



  • CHEM 101DL Core Concepts in Chemistry OR
  • CHEM 110DL Honors Chemistry: Core Concepts in Context OR
  • CHEM 21 General Chemistry Credit


  • CHEM 201DL Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 202D Organic Chemistry

NOTE: CHEM 210DL is also recommended for pre-med, pre-vet, biochem and pharm students.


  • MATH 111L Laboratory Calculus I OR
  • MATH 121 Introductory Calculus I OR
  • MATH 21 Introductory Calculus I OR
  • BOTH MATH 105L/106L Laboratory Calculus and Functions I and II


  • MATH 112L Laboratory Calculus II OR
  • MATH 122L Introductory Calculus II OR
  • MATH 22 Introductory Calculus II OR
  • STA 102 Introductory Biostatistics OR STA 101 or above OR
  • BIOLOGY 304 Biological Data Analysis (cannot be double counted as an elective)


  • PHYSICS 121L/141L General Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 151L Introductory Mechanics OR
  • PHYSICS 161D Fundamentals of Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 25 (AP credit)

NOTE: PHYSICS 122L/142L is also recommended for pre-med, pre-vet, biochem and pharm students.

Biology Major Requirements (minimum 10 Courses)

The following courses are required for students pursuing both the B.S. and B.A. biology credentials.

Gateway Courses (2 or 1 courses)

The gateways are not sequenced and can be taken in either order.

  • BIOLOGY 201L Molecular Biology (prerequisite: Chem 101D or equivalent)
  • BIOLOGY 202L Genetics & Evolution


  • BIOLOGY 203L Molecular Biology, Genetics & Evolution (prerequisite: Biology AP 5 and Chem 101D or equivalent)

Biology Area Requirements (3 Courses)

Select 1 course from EACH of the following three areas. Courses listed in more than one area may only be used to meet one area requirement.

  • 1 course - Organismal Diversity (see course listings)
  • 1 course - Biological Structure & Function: BIOLOGY 220 Cell Biology
  • 1 course - Ecology (see course listings)

Cell & Molecular Concentration Electives (5 or 6 Courses)

  • BCH 301 Introductory Biochemistry I
  • BIOLOGY 293 Research Independent Study or other Independent Study (CELLBIO, MGM, etc.) as approved by an Area Advisor
  • BIOLOGY 414LS Experiments in Developmental and Molecular Genetics OR Biology 422L or 422LS Neurogenerative Disease Lab OR a 2nd semester continuation of approved Independent Study
  • 1 elective course selected from the following list:
    • BIOLOGY 212L General Microbiology (can count for organismal diversity or as an elective but not both)
    • BIOLOGY 213 Cell Signaling and Diseases
    • BIOLOGY 218 Biological Clocks: How Organisms Keep Time
    • BIOLOGY 221D Developmental Biology
    • BIOLOGY 223 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
    • BIOLOGY 312D Virology
    • BIOLOGY 314 Regenerative Biology & Medicine
    • BIOLOGY 374LA Marine Molecular Ecology
    • BIOLOGY 412S Sensory Signal Transduction
    • BIOLOGY 414L Experiments in Developmental and Molecular Genetics (if not already used above)
    • BIOLOGY 415S Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Colloquium
    • BIOLOGY 417S Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
    • BIOLOGY 420 Cancer Genetics
    • BIOLOGY 422L/422LS Neurodegenerative Disease Lab (if not used above)
    • BIOLOGY 424S Cell Shape(s) and Dynamics
    • BIOLOGY 433S The Biology Nobels
    • BIOLOGY 490S  Special Topics Seminar with area faculty only or as approved by the area advisor
    • BIOLOGY 515 Principles of Immunology
    • BIOLOGY 520S Membraneless Organelles in Cellular Processes and Neurodegeneration
    • BIOLOGY 525S Proteomics
    • BCH 302 Introductory Biochemistry II
    • Not currently offered: BIOLOGY 380LA Marine Molecular Microbiology; BIOLOGY 416LExperimental Molecular Biology; BIOLOGY 411S Molecular Genetic Analysis; BIOLOGY 421S Biology of Nervous System Diseases (B)
  •  1 Biology elective or approved alternate elective course (if using Bio 201L & 202L) OR 2 biology elective or approved alternate elective courses (if using Bio 203L).
The Area Requirement & Elective Courses Above Must Include:
  1. At least two full lab courses, beyond the Gateways. Only one Independent study may count as a lab course. 
  2. At least one full Biology ‘Capstone’ at the 400-level or above. Independent Study can only count towards this requirement if it is a second semester continuation with the same research supervisor.