You are here: Home Undergraduate Portal Academic Planning Resources Syllabi BIOL 467

BIOL 467

Main Content

BIOL 467

Spring Semester 2015

Molecular Basis of Neurological Diseases

Instructor: Yingwei Mao, Ph. D.

Office: 214 LSB


Hours: by appointment, email is the best way to contact me

Class Meetings: 2:30PM – 3:30 PM Mon, Wed & Fri 

Classroom: 216 Thomas 

Text: Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 4th Ed., McGraw-Hill, 2000, is recommended as a major reference for background information on CNS functions and anatomy. Background information in some lectures will be from Molecular and Genetic Basis of Neurologic and Psychiatric disease, 4th Ed, Roger N. Rosenberg et al.; and Neurobiology of Disease, Sid Gilman.  Readings on review and primary research papers on selected topics will be assigned for each class.

Prerequisite: One of the four: BIOL 110, BIOL 230, BIOL240 or BMB 251 

Course Objectives 

1. Describe causes of a disease in biological and molecular contexts 

2. Compare and contrast mechanisms of different diseases 

3. Describe current treatments for diseases and how they are (in)effective 

4. Develop skills in scientific and visual literacy including data analysis 

5. Increase skills with reading primary literature 

Course on Angel

Using your student access account you can log onto Angel ( where you will find the syllabus, updated schedules, copies of the papers for discussion and any other handouts or readings associated with this course.  You will need to check your Penn State e-mail regularly for course announcements etc.

Examinations and grading

1st exam: 30% of the grade

2nd exam: 30%

Paper assignment: 15%

Paper presentation & participation 15%

Attendance 10%

Bonus Review 5%

Exams will mainly consist of multiple-choice and short-answer essays. A paper (due on May2) is a compare/contrast critique of current primary literatures on gene therapy or stem cell transplantation for the neurodegenerative disorders AD, PD, HD and ALS (detailed instructions will be given separately). Paper presentation is a group effort with each group consisting of 3 students. Topics and format will be posted later. A review on a selected disease taught in the class will be your bonus points. Final grades will be assigned as follows:

A=93-100, A-=90-92, B+=86-89, B=83-85, B-=80-82, C+=76-79, C=70-75, D=60-69

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarship free from fraud and deception. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabrication of information or citations, facilitating acts of dishonesty by others, possessing unauthorized copies of examinations, submitting the work of others claimed as one's own, submitting work used for other classes (without the knowledge of the instructor) or tampering with the work of other students. All work submitted for this class must be original and not the result of discussions with others. Instances of academic dishonesty threaten the atmosphere of trust and free exchange of ideas. Such instances will result in the offending student receiving a failing grade for work discovered to be fraudulent and for egregious cases, the student may be dismissed from the class with a failing grade.


Students with physical or sensory conditions that make access difficult are encouraged to consult the Office for Disability Services at (814) 863 1807 in advance of the first day of class if possible.

Late Assignments

All writing assignments are to be completed using Microsoft Word. Check spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., as errors of these sorts will result in point deductions. If I can’t read it, it’s wrong! It is essential that papers and other assignments be completed and submitted on time. It is your responsibility to plan ahead. There will be no excuse for turning in a late assignment. 


The make-up exams will be possible if they have been arranged with the instructor prior to the scheduled exam. If you know you are going to miss an exam (and you have a VALID reason) see the instructor BEFORE the exam date. 

It is in your best interest to avoid makeup exams and be in class for the regularly scheduled exam.