CMB Courses-Student Recommendations
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Note: This is a list of courses current CMB students have taken towards the CMB course requirements and have chosen to leave feedback on. Please note that this list does not include all of the courses that can count towards the CMB requirements. CMB course requirements can be found here: http://www.cmb.wisc.edu/course-requirements
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Dept/Course #Course Name
Would you recommend this course to other students?
Is there anyone in particular who would benefit from this course based on their research interests?Additional comments
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ex. Oncology 703ex. Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell Biology
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Biochemistry 601Protein and Enzyme Structure and FunctionYesAnyone starting a project with a lot of biochemistry of proteinsDifficult course, but worth it if you are interested in how the structure of an enzyme enables it to catalyze a reaction, or if you're interested in protein structure in general
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Biochemistry 601Protein and Enzyme Structure and FunctionYes if you will be working in a biochem lab/ doing protein workAnyone doing protein work, structural studies, or if you want a refreshed on general biochem topics like kinetics, catalysis, protein folding motifs, NMR, amino acids, crystallography, etc. Strong emphasis on how structure relates to function of proteins and enzymes.If you have a good biochemistry background then you won't learn anything new but the class is a good refresher! I enjoyed it because Holden and Rayment are wonderful professors with lots of stories to tell about the history and discoveries that made this science possible. That being said, I agree with the comment below that class feels easy but the exams are more challenging (but again, super managable/easy if you have a strong background in the field).
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Biochemistry 601Protein and Enzyme Structure and FunctionYes, if you are really interested in the topic. If you are looking for a class to gain some knowledge about the subject without too much work, steer clear.People doing biochemistry and protein work. MBTG students can also take this class to satisfy their macrobiology requirement.This course was really difficult for me, as I didn't have a big biochemistry background and most of my research has been cell biology focused. The concepts are breezed over in lecture but the tests and homeworks were very difficult. There is no formal book, which I found this frustrating when I didn't understand a concept and had to do a lot of outside reading. There is a very large gap between the difficulty of the lectures and the homeworks/tests, which made it hard to prepare. The instructors are very nice, but overall I would avoid this class unless you feel that the information is important to your line of study.
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Biochemistry 620Eukaryotic Molecular Cell BiologyYesEveryone - this class really gets you thinking like a scientist and forces you to think about every control you might need for an experiment. You also get a lot of experience in proposing a hypothesis and providing a rationale for that hypothesis.Lecture based. In the exams you are given two biological problems to think about and you choose one. You give two hypotheses for what you think is happening, a rationale for those hypotheses, and you design an experiment noting all important controls and give expected outcomes. One of the best ways I've ever been tested in grad school (it was stressful, but the sucesses felt so satisfying)
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Biochemistry 620Eukaryotic Molecular Cell BiologyYesEveryone working with eukaryotic cell systems should definitely take this class! Even if you're not, it's a great class and intellectually stimulating. Forces you to really "think like a scientist" and approach problems with hypothesis-based analysisSimilar to undergrad classes in terms of being mostly lectures with weekly homework assignements, and a few major exams. Everything is hypothesis driven and you need to read the literature and draw models of the molecular mechanisms behind what you think is going on. This class was a lot of work for me, but I felt that it was satisfying and that I really got a lot out of it. The exams are similar to the style of the homework (discussion based with hypotheses and models) so the homeworks help to reinforce concepts and prepare you. Although this took up a lot of time, it was one of my favorite classes so far.
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Biochemistry 620Eukaryotic Molecular Cell BiologyYesAnyone working in basic research or molecular biologyTook Spring 2020 - This wasn't one of my favorite classes, but I'm more interested in the cellular biology side of things. I don't know that I'll ever use the material itself, but I do think that the homeworks/exams were useful to practice putting together a logical hypothesis to fit the data, as well as develop experiments to test that hypothesis. Once you get a feel for the teaching style, it's not that difficult of a class.
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Biochemistry 620Eukaryotic Molecular Cell BiologyYesThis course is great for anyone who wants to be challenged on how you think about expeiments. Highly recommend it!In this course you will design experiments to carry out your hypothesis to what is going on based upon the information you learn in lecture. You will not only learn content but also techniques that are commonly used in molecular biology.
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Biochemistry 630Cellular signal transduction mechansimsNot reallySomeone working on mechanistic work (as opposed to phenotypic mouse work, for example)When I took this course there were very difficult open book Saturday exams (Fall of 2015- I believe this may have changed by now). The class was taught by a lot of different professors and it felt disorganized most of the time. The exams were very frustrating. It's a class that is taken with some upperclassman undergrads, lecture based, and feels kind of boring for a grad level class.
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Biochemistry 630Cellular signal transduction mechansimsMAYBEThis course is useful for anyone studying signaling or basic cell biology or cancer biology. The course was taught by ~6 professors and started from very basic concepts of signaling. There were no exams, only weekly take home quizzes and a term paper due at the end of the semester (Fall 2019). However, the grading is competetive because the course is credited by undergraduates, MSTP students and graduate students from >5 programs.
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Biochemistry 630Cellular signal transduction mechansimsYesThis is a good course to take if you are interested in mechanisms but it is a duel-undergrad course so take that into consideration. There were aspects I leaned in undergrad and some parts I felt were not taught well at all. I spent a decent amount of time outside of class trying to understnd the material and parts of it were just memorizing pathways. Exams were open note and online although I think they may have changed the format of the exams.
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BOTANY / ENTOM / PL PATH 505
Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects
YesIf you are going to do research in plant-microbe interactions field, this is a good course for you. We learned a lot about various pathogens of plants and the molecular warfare between plants and their pathogens. I found it really interesting, especially because I had no background in this kind of material.Class was taught by 4 professors. Two exams and student-led research article discussion every Friday.
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CRB 630Proteomics for BiologiestYesIf you are interested in proteomics and want to learn the concepts behind mass spec or how to set up an experiment, then I would recommend taking this course. This course goes over the ins and outs of proteomics, both top-down and bottom-up. It is a lecture based course that at times can be slow but there are not exams and just a few homework assignments. Overall I enjoyed this course but don't really have any application for proteomics for my own research.
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Genetics 885/875Advanced Genomic and Proteomic AnalysisYesAnyone who plans to do any high-throughput analysis The course consists of two lectures and a 2-hour computer lab each week. The lectures are practical and informative, and the labs were generally great. You can come into this course with almost no computational knowledge and leave with an understanding of how to analyze RNA-Seq, ChIP, phylogenetics, etc. There is also a project component where you can use your own research - which basically means if you have an analysis problem in the lab, you can take this course and get professional advice on how to solve your problems (plus deadlines to get stuff done). I highly recommend it!
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MICROBIO / BIOCHEM / GENETICS 612Prokaryotic Molecular BiologyYesIf you need a refresher on prokaryotic systems, this a course for you. We got the nitty-gritty of prokaryotic replication, transcription and so on.This course was taugh by one main professor but had several guest lecturers and TA-led discussion sessions several times.
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ONCOLOGY / MICROBIOLOGY / PLANT PATHOLOGY 640General Virology-Multiplication of VirusesYesThis class was great! Taught by three professors and a TA, you learn a huge variety of different viruses by the end of the year. You get into the nitty gritty of viral entry, replication, and exit, while also learning about cell biology and how your immune system attempts to rid of the virus. The profs always say that viruses know more about our cells than we do, so we can learn a lot of cell bio by studying viruses. I found this to be very true and loved the class. I would recommed it even if you are not in a virology lab (as is my case!).Your grade is comprised of three exams. The grad students are graded separately from the undergrads in the course. Also the TA leads study sessions the week before every exam, so you have plenty of opportunities to get your questions answered. This was my favorite class I've taken at UW.
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Oncology 675Readings in OncologyYesPeople interested in cancer researchEach week you read 1-3 papers and come together as a group to discuss them (it's essentially a journal club). You submit discussion questions each week and then some are selected for the group. There are two take home "exams" where you answer questions based on some readings you are given. Worthwhile class for students in cancer-focused labs.
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Oncology 675Readings in OncologyYesIf you are interested in staying ahead of current cancer topics.This is a discussion based course which can be great if you have people willing to disscuss but it can feel like pulling teeth at times as each week you will lead a disscussion topic on the papers you've read for that week.
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Oncology 703Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell Biology A good class for anyone to take, not just cancer students. If there's a chance you will be joining a lab in McArdle, you need to take this class in order to apply for the Cancer Biology Training GrantNo exams, homework is from reading assigned literature and answering questions on it. Many different professors so the lecture styles differed, but it was interesting.
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Oncology 703Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell BiologyYesGreat class for anyone to take, even if you're not sure if you will be in a cancer bio labSurvey class that is focused on many different areas of cancer biology research. No exams and the homework is pretty attainable and focused on reading literature/answering prompts. I am not in a cancer focused lab, but it was a great way to read outside of my immediate research field and try to make connections to the things I'm studying.
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Oncology 703Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell BiologyYesAnyone interested in cancer researchTook Fall 2019 - This class was a survey class taught by many different professors on various topics in cancer biology/research. It was a pretty easy class - no exams, just homeworks every other week or so. The teaching style varied tremendously depending on the professor lecturing that week. Some gave small in-class quizzes to gauge how much the class was taking in. This class took attendance each week too. I thought it was a great overview of cancer biology and a good introduction to the types of research done on cancer.
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Oncology 703Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell BiologyYesGreat overview of current cancer topics. This course is applicable for students not interested in cancer as they go over general cell biology topics as well. This couse has fairly low work load so it would be good to take with a harder course. There are no exams and the homeworks are not bad.
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Path 750PathologyNoIt's hard to say. The class covers a lot of different topics, by 5 or 6 different professors. They didn't seem to have any unifying theme...The class didn't seem relevent to anything I wanted to study. The only topic I found interesting and well taught was the immunology section. Each section was tought by different people which was something I wasn't use to and didn't particularly like. The exams were also all multiple choice and they let us use a cheat sheet. However, the cheat sheet seemed to make us cram all the information from the lectures.
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Path 750Cellular and Molecular Biology/PathologyYes if you want an intro to cell biologyThe class covers a lot of topics all generally related to cell biology, such as cell/cell junctions, cell cycle progression, cancer bio, common signalling pathways, a bit of immunology and T/B cell development, etc. So if these things interest you, and you like switching topics every week and meeting lots of professors, then this class would be a good fit. If you took a good, rigiorous cell biology class in undergrad, then this class will probably not be useful to you. I didn't feel like any of the topics went in depth beyond my previous understanding. The class was restructured this year (fall 2017) so that there is no homework, and the three take-home exams comprise your total grade. All the questions could be found in the powerpoint slides from lectures. Overall this class was pretty easy (assuming you already have a firm cell bio background).
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Path 750Cellular and Molecular Biology/PathologyMaybeAnyone who needs an intro or a refresher on cell biology topics (listed above). The immunology section was the most useful for me since I had no background on that. Other sections of the course were review for me, but still helpful. Your grade is mostly exams (unless you opt in to the discussion section). The exams general follow the format of giving you a result from an experiment and then asking you to: 1) explain the background 2) provide a hypothesis 3) propose an experiment 4) explain your expected results 5) predict any potential issues with the experiment or results. Some of the professors strayed from that format though and asked more specific questions on the content.
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Stats 571StatisticsYesEveryoneI thought Stats 571 was a really good course. I was tought by Nick Kueler and I thought he did a good job. The material was easy at firt but it became quite challenging for everyone in the class. After completing this class I have a better understanding of how to test for significance and interpret P-values. I also have a better understanding of how to design experiments and determine experimental power.
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MM & I 528ImmunologyYesAnyone interested in working on immunology or immunology-adjacent projectsTook Fall 2019 - This was an amazing class, definitely my favorite. It's mostly undergrads in the class, and it's definitely taught as a undergraduate class (pretty much all lecture-style). There were no homeworks, just a few exams, and as a graduate student you only had two extra assignments that were pretty straightforward. The exams were fair, but I definitely had to study. This is a great and very thorough introduction to immunology - it's a lot of information to cover in just a semester, but overall an excellent class.
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Path 807ImmunopathologyNoAnyone who wants to get experience reading papersTook Spring 2020 - This class was pretty useless. I don't think I really learned anything beyond how to read papers quickly enough to get the bare minimum of information from them. Each week we had a different professor to speak on a different topic in immunopathology, and they chose a paper that we had to read and critique before the lecture. The lecture started with a presentation by the professor on the topic, which ended up being basically useless since we had to look all of the information up ourselves just to understand the paper. We then would use the second half of class to discuss the paper itself - what we liked, what we didn't like. Super easy course, if that's what you're looking for, but it was pretty boring. Don't expect to really learn anything.
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Biochem 729Advanced BiochemistryYESAnyone interested in protein structure, enzymology or wants to have a greater perspective in Biochemistry (both theory and techniques)Took in Fall 2019 - It is a graduate student only class. Although taught primarily by 3 faculties, there were guest lectures by faculties who specialized in different aspects (eg, Cryo EM,ssNMR, RNA biology, systems biology, lipidomics). 3 take home mid terms (we got 7 days time to solve them, each), 2 assignments (they were very easy), 1 paper presentation and writing reports on papers presented by each group. It is an extensive course, but doesn't involve memorizing anything and I felt I learnt a lot from this course.
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