Carnegie Mellon University

Genomics and Epigenetics of the Brain

Course Number: 02-319

This course will provide an introduction to genomics, epigenetics, and their application to problems in
neuroscience. The rapid advances in genomic technology are in the process of revolutionizing how we
conduct molecular biology research. These new techniques have given us an appreciation for the role
that epigenetics modifications of the genome play in gene regulation, development, and inheritance. In
this course, we will cover the biological basis of genomics and epigenetics, the basic computational
tools to analyze genomic data, and the application of those tools to neuroscience. Through
programming assignments and reading primary literature, the material will also serve to demonstrate
important concepts in neuroscience, including the diversity of neural cell types, neural plasticity, the
role that epigenetics plays in behavior, and how the brain is influenced by neurological and psychiatric
disorders. Although the course focuses on neuroscience, the material is accessible and applicable to a
wide range of topics in biology.

Semester(s): Fall
Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): 03-121, 03-151, 03-220, 02-201, 15-110, 15-112
Location(s): Pittsburgh



Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will
  1.  be able to describe the technological advances in genomics, different classes of genomic experiments researchers conduct, and how genomics has contributed towards our understanding of biology;
  2. critically evaluate primary literature that uses genomic technology to understand the brain;
  3. distinguish whether genomic technology is being used to test for specific hypotheses, screen for candidate molecules, provide an annotation, or learn the basic rules underlying a biological system;
  4. explain the role that epigenetics plays in gene regulation and inheritance;
  5. conduct a computational analysis of genomic data, from raw output to biological conclusions, using existing genomic analysis tools at the command line;
  6. conduct a statistical analysis of transcriptomic and epigenetic data using the R programming language;
  7. design genomic experiments with sufficient statistical power and controls by approaching problems in biology and neuroscience from a quantitative perspective;
  8. describe the molecular and functional difference between neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglial cells in the brain;
  9. describe how epigenetics contributes to the process of neural plasticity;
  10. and describe the biological basis of neurological and psychiatric disorders and how genomic technology has contributed towards our understanding of them.