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. David McClay , Department of Biology, Developmental, Cell & Molecular Biology Group
phone: 613-8188 e-mail: dmcclay@duke.edu

Dr. David Sherwood, Department of Biology, Developmental, Cell & Molecular Biology Group
phone: 613-8192 e-mail: david.sherwood@duke.edu

Armaleo, Baugh, Bejsovec, Benfey, Dong, Haase, Kiehart, McClay, Pei, Schmid, D. Sherwood, N.T. Sherwood, Silva, 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 202L 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 141L General Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 151L Introductory Mechanics OR
  • PHYSICS 161L Introductory Experimental Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 25 (AP credit)

NOTE: PHYSICS 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 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.

Cell & Molecular Concentration Electives (5 or 6 Courses)

Lab Experience Requirement

Students are required to take 2 full lab courses in addition to the gateway courses. For the Cell & Molecular Concentration Area, this requirement is fulfilled by taking either a semester of Research Independent Study and BIO 414LS, 416LS, 212L or another BIO with lab at the 200-level or above. Only one Independent study can count for this requirement.

Capstone Course Requirement

You must take at least 1 full 400-level or higher biology 'Capstone' course or other approved capstone course. Independent study can count towards this requirement if it is a second semester continuation.