Genetics, Genomics & Evolution

Pushing the boundaries of genomic technology development, MCB faculty study the organization of genes into genomes and how these systems evolve, ranging from classic genetic and developmental models all the way to complex human diseases.

Area Directors

Area Directors help advise students about classes and rotations in their interest area. They also provide a listing of suggested courses for those interested in Genetics, Genomics & Evolution.

Faculty Area Directors

Student Area Directors

Suggested Curriculum

The suggested curriculum outlined below is meant to guide you in choosing classes, they are not requirements. We highly encourage you to take the Foundational courses, while the Electives are more specialized and often cross between Areas of Interest. Remember to review the UW Time Schedule for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding whether a course is currently being offered.

2023-2024 Suggested Curriculum (document download)

GENOME 553 – Advanced Genetic Analysis

Explores genetic analysis as a powerful approach for dissecting complex biological processes. Covers how scientists use selective removal, addition, or alteration of specific proteins to: identify and order genes in a pathway; define protein function; determine tissue, temporal, and sub-cellular requirements for activity; and distinguish among competing hypotheses to explain biological phenomena.
Size Limit: 20 (required for the 12 GS first-year students); that is, 8 slots will be available on first-come, first-served basis.
Offered SPR, 1.5 credits, Weeks 1-10

GENOME 561 – Molecular Population Genetics and Evolution

Surveys recent literature to gain an understanding of the basic principles of molecular population genetics and evolution as applied to analysis of genome data. Requires some computer analysis of genome data.
Size Limit: 20 (required for the 12 GS first-year students)
Offered WIN, 1.5 credits, Weeks 1-5

MCB 536 – Tools for Computational Biology

Introduction to established best practices in computational biology. Learn to organize unstructured data into standard formats, transform data for statistical analyses, and visualize the transformed data. Learn workflows for reproducible research such as version control, project organization, and code documentation. Gain basic experience with Linux command line tools and the Python and R programming languages. Classes will involve hands-on learning through coding exercises, collaborative problem solving, and extensive use of online learning resources.
Offered AUT, 3.0 credits, Weeks, 1-10, Offered every year

CONJ 537 – Mechanism Of Transcriptional Regulation

A five-week graduate survey course concentrating on biochemical mechanisms of gene transcription. The course will cover a broad range of transcriptional regulation including: Mechanisms of transcriptional initiation; Regulation of transcription by chromatin; Transcriptional regulation, development and diseases in mammals.
Offered AUT, 1.5 credits, Weeks 6-10, Offered even-numbered years, Will be offered in AUT 2024

CONJ 557 – Microbial Evolution

Selected topics in microbial evolution including evidence for early life on Earth, molecular mechanisms of bacterial and viral evolution, speciation, adaptive niche differentiation, bioinformatics tools to detect selection, and evolution of the virulence and pandemic spread.
Offered SPR, 2.0 credits, Weeks 1-5, Offered every year, Will be offered in SPR 2024

GENOME 551 – Principles of Gene Regulation

A detailed examination of the mechanisms of transcription and translation as determined by experimental genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry.
Size Limit: 20 (required for the 12 GS first-year students)
Offered WIN, 1.5 credits, Weeks 6-10

GENOME 552 – Technologies For Genome Analysis

Discussion of current and newly-emerging technologies in genome analysis with regard to applications in biology and medicine and to potential advantages and limitations
Size Limit: 17 (required for the 12 GS first-year students—already filled up for Autumn 2023). Contact course instructor and state your interest.
Offered AUT, 1.5 credits, Weeks 6-10

GENOME 559 – Introduction To Statistical And Computational Genomics

Rudiments of statistical and computational genomics. Emphasis on basic probability and statistics, introduction to computer programming, and relevant web databases.
Size Limit: 19 (only taken by GS first-year students if they have no prior programming experience)
Offered WIN, 3.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

GENOME 562 – Population Genetics

Mathematical and experimental approaches to the genetics of natural populations, especially as they relate to evolution. Emphasis on theoretical population genetics.
Size Limit: Probably 20 (Not required for GS students, but popular with Bio students)
Offered WIN, 4.0 credits, Weeks 1-10, Will be offered in WIN 2024

GENOME 565 – Advanced Human Genetics

The goal of the course is to provide students with knowledge and tools most useful for successful research in human genomics. Components of the course are: gene discovery and molecular function; genomic architecture; cancer genetics; and human diversity and evolution. The course meets winter quarter, with three lectures per week by the instructors and weekly section meetings. Multiple problem sets are based on real data.
Prerequisite(s): College-level genetics course (GENOME 361 or 371); for genetics courses taken elsewhere, please ask the instructors. The class typically includes about 60 students, including both undergraduate and graduate students.
Size Limit: 20 (the graduate version of the course does not usually fill up although the undergrad version, 465, often does)
Offered WIN, 4.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

GENOME 569 – Bioinformatics Workflows for High-Throughput Sequencing Experiments

Programming skills and software tools for building automated bioinformatics pipelines and computational biology analyses. Emphasis on UNIX tools and R libraries for distilling raw sequencing data into interpretable results. For students familiar with UNIX and with some programming experience in Python, R, or C/C++.
Size Limit: 15 (not required of GS students but gets considerable interest)
Offered SPR, 1.5 credits, Weeks 1-5

MCB 517 – Epigenetics and Epigenomics

Mechanisms of cellular memory mediated through nucleosomes, DNA-binding proteins, DNA and histone covalent modifications, and chromatin dynamics.
Note: The first year, the course will be piloted under MCB 517 and then switched to CONJ 533, to compliment CONJ 537. This course is a revised version of an older course, The Dynamic Chromosome.
Offered AUT, 1.5 credits, Weeks 1-5, Offered even-numbered years, Will be offered in AUT 2024


Translating genomes

Dr. Mary-Claire King awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama

From understanding the genetic basis of familial breast cancer risk to understanding the genetic conflicts between host and pathogen genomes, MCB Seattle faculty push the boundaries of understanding all aspects of genome biology. The University of Washington ranks #7 in Molecular Biology and Genetics graduate studies according to US News and World Report.