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Grand Valley State University    
2013-2014 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Sep 26, 2018
2013-2014 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Cell and Molecular Biology - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Chair: Staves. Professors: Blackman, Staves, Thorpe; Associate Professors: Burg, Dietrich, Hart, Tsou; Assistant Professors: Christians, Patel, Szarecka; Associate Faculty: Elrod, Evans, Nikitin, Ostrow, Powers, Ramsson, Sass, Sridhar, Taylor, Thomas, Thum, Wallar.


Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) is for students with a passion for the Life Sciences who want to prepare for employment in their field or for graduate/professional training. It is focused on determining how cells develop and function and the significance of those functions in the living organism. This interdisciplinary study draws on diverse fields such as biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology, genetics and developmental biology and is the basis for many applied fields including biotechnology, pharmacology, and biomedicine. The Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology at Grand Valley prepares students for employment or graduate training in the critically important and dynamic fields of cell and molecular biology, biotechnology, evolutionary development and biomedical research. The major requires core courses that address issues specific to cell and molecular biology, which are supplemented by courses from the biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry and physics departments. A unique and defining part of Grand Valley’s CMB degree is the student’s participation in independent research/internship. Each student will have a research mentor from CMB or another participating GVSU department or from an area business or research institute, ensuring that students will get practical experience conducting original research in their area of interest. This practical experience, in addition to the rigorous curriculum, has been demonstrated to contribute to success in the workforce or graduate programs after graduation.

Many upper-level classes in the CMB degree have several prerequisites, thus it is important for students to begin their chemistry, biology and physics course sequences as early as possible. Students who wish to major in cell and molecular biology should see a member of the CMB faculty to plan their program of study as soon as possible.

Admission to Major Standing

To ensure that all CMB students benefit from a successful research experience, admission to the CMB program is by application. As students begin their work toward completion of a B.S. degree in CMB, they will declare themselves as pre-CMB majors. These students will then make application for admission into the CMB major. Application will normally take place in the first semester of the junior year, or after the student has completed CMB 250. In order to be admitted to major standing, applicants must have earned at least a C+ grade in each of the following courses:

Applications will be reviewed by the CMB Coordinating Committee, and recommendations will be made to the CMB Program Director. Demonstrated student interest as well as recommendations from potential research mentors will be considered as well as grades. Students whose applications are approved will be admitted to CMB major standing.

Career Opportunities

The overall goal of the CMB program is to provide our students with quality preparation for careers in research laboratories, as well as further study in graduate and professional schools. Cell and molecular biology, with its sub-disciplines of biotechnology, molecular genetics, pharmacology and biomedicine is the most rapidly growing and dynamic area of the life sciences. Some advances and important figures include:

  • The bioscience industry has led in job creation and salary increase during the 2001 to 2010 period.
  • Development of environmental biotechnology products that make it possible to clean up hazardous waste more efficiently by harnessing pollution - eating microbes without the use of caustic chemicals.
  • Application of DNA fingerprinting to dramatically improve criminal investigation and forensic medicine, as well as afford significant advances in anthropology and wildlife management.
  • Use of adult and embryonic stem cells for therapeutic benefits, in addition to offering insight into vexing problems of genetic defects associated with terminal illnesses.
  • Utilization of biotechnology foods that consumers already enjoy, such as papaya, soybeans and corn. Hundreds of biopesticides and other agricultural products also are being used to improve our food supply and to reduce our dependence on conventional chemical pesticides.
  • The cell and molecular biology industry employs 198,300 people.
  • The cell and molecular biology industry has mushroomed since 1992, with revenues increasing from $8 billion in 1992 to $99 billion in 2011.
  • There are 1,473 cell and molecular biology companies in the United States, of which 342 are publicly held.
  • There are more than 300 biotech drug products and vaccines currently in clinical trials targeting more than 200 diseases, including various cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and arthritis.

In addition to careers in industry and research, the CMB degree will provide excellent preparation for careers in intellectual property and biotechnology law, pharmaceutical and drug sales, market analysis and education.

Graduate School Opportunities

Students graduating with the CMB major will be prepared for graduate programs in biology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and related areas.  Our students have been accepted into graduate programs at: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Columbia Univ., Emory Univ., Grand Valley State University, Indiana Univ. Medical School in Indianapolis, Indiana Univ.-Bloomington, Indiana Univ.-Purdue, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (NIH-JHU Graduate Partnership Program), Medical College of Wisconsin, Michigan State Univ., Northwestern Univ., The Ohio State Univ., Tufts Univ., Univ. of Alabama-Birmingham, Univ. of California-Davis, Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Delaware, Univ. of Iowa, Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Univ. of North Carolina, Univ. of North Carolina (NIH-UNC Graduate Partnership Program), Univ. of Pittsburgh, Univ. of Texas, Southwestern, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt Univ., Virginia Commonwealth Univ., Washington University in St. Louis, Weil Medical College of Cornell.

Participating Programs

Faculty members from the Annis Water Resources Institute, Biology, Biomedical Science and Chemistry departments contribute to the CMB program.

Faculty members from the CMB program contribute to the Professional Science Master’s program at GVSU.

Student Organizations (

American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
A student organization for students interested in all areas of cell and molecular biology. The group hosts visiting speakers, promotes undergraduate research and supports travel to the national annual meeting.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology 

Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology