Intensive Laboratory in Biotechnology

May 23 - July 14, 2016.

Instructor Pre-approval is required.

M - R, 9 am - 2 pm, plus additional independent lab work as necessary.

744E and 743 Mudd

*** First day of class is Monday May 23rd, 9 am, in 743 Mudd. Come even if you have not registered.***


Hands-on exercise is one of the most important aspects in experimental biology.  Students enrolled in Biotechnology programs have an extensive opportunity to learn many cutting-edge molecular biology methods from lecture- and reading- based courses.  Laboratory lectures.  Students will learn practical skills in planning, executing, analyzing and troubleshooting research protocols.  The goal of this intensive laboratory is to expose students to various techniques in biotechnology as well as to prepare them for independence in research settings.  To ensure the continuation of experimental protocols and simulation of an actual research situation, classes are scheduled to meet long and frequently.  With such an immersion in the laboratory, students will learn not only a comprehensive array of techniques, but also the real-life issues that are frequently missing from shorter laboratory courses.  This course is designed for students who do not have any prior independent research experience. 

Course content

Students will meet four 5-hour days a week for eight weeks during the summer.  The course will concentrate on modern laboratory methods in biotechnology.  These include the engineering and analyses of genes and gene products (RNA and proteins) in bacteria, yeasts, and mammalian cell culture, as time permits. 

Most class meetings will begin with a recitation period when background information, experimental design, calculation, and task scheduling will be discussed.  Actual laboratory time will include all steps in conducting experiments.  These may include reagent preparation, equipment set-up and calibration, protocol running and monitoring, laboratory maintenance, accident prevention, simulated accident handling, post-lab clean up and waste disposal.  Each laboratory exercise will conclude with data analysis, discussion, and presentation.

Students may be asked to work in small groups and may be expected to forge collaboration within and among groups. 

Reading list

There is no text book.  Reading materials will be distributed during class.

Course requirements

  • Prerequisites: Open to students enrolled in the Biotechnology programs.  Enrollment for non-biotechnology students is determined by space availability. Completion of general chemistry lab and knowledge of fundamental math (e.g., algebra) is expected.
  • Pre-lab preparations: Students are expected to be prepared before coming to the lab
  • Lab work:  This course requires active participation in all activities including experimental design, bench work, data analysis, and post-lab discussion.
  • Lab notebook:  Students must keep complete and legible lab notes.  The notebooks will be checked frequently by the instructor.
  • Post-lab analysis: Students are expected to analyze data during and outside of class.
  • Lab reports:  Both written and oral reports are required.  Lab reports are presented in the style of scientific papers or seminars.
  • Exams:  To be determined.


Number of days for each topic is shown in parentheses. 

Different topics may be held concurrently.

  1. Introduction, general procedure, and lab safety
  • Manipulation DNA

    a) Large scale plasmid DNA preparation

    b) Restriction enzyme digestion and gel electrophoresis

  1. Subcloning

    a) Gel purification

    b) Ligation

    c) Transformation

  2. Screening

    a) Plasmid mini preparation and gel analysis

    b) Probe generation

    c) Southern transfer

    d) Southern hybridization

    e) Detection

    f) PCR analysis

  3. Site-directed mutagenesis
  4. Tissue culture technique

    a) Maintenance

    b) High molecular weight DNA isolation

    c) RNA isolation

    d) Proliferation essays

    e) Cell cycle analysis

    f) Transfection and selection

  5. Gene expression analysis

    a) cDNA generation

    b) Array analysis

  6. Protein analysis

    a) Expression and purification

    b) Western blot analysis

  7. Yeast two-hybrid analysis (as time allows)

    a) Fushion gene construction

    b) Yeast transformation

    c) Phenotype testing

Business Office

Department of Biological Sciences
500 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2401
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Academic Office

Department of Biological Sciences
600 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2402
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
212 854-4581