Summer 2023 - MBB 839 G100

Special Topics in Molecular Biology (3)

Cells & the Environment

Class Number: 2160

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.



Consideration of recent literature concerning selected contemporary research topics. Can be taken more than once with permission of instructor.


Description: This course will begin with a historical review of key discoveries in stem cell biology and is structured into three modules. In module 1, we will explore the foundational biology of stem cell populations: the defining characteristics and physiological relevance of natural and reprogrammed stem cell types including embryonic, neonatal, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells. In module 2, cutting-edge technological advances involving these various stem cell populations will be explored, including current state-of-the-art approaches in modeling tissue development and genetic diseases. Module 3 will focus on current and impending therapeutic applications of stem cells: implications toward human health, barriers to regulatory approval or commercialization, and ethical considerations in stem cell research and therapies.

Topics include:

  • What defines a “stem cell”
  • The breadth of embryonic and adult stem cell types
  • Stem cells as founders of tissue development, maintenance, and regeneration
  • Strategies to obtain pluripotent and somatic stem cells in vitro
  • Experimental approaches to examine cell fate decisions
  • How to manipulate stem cells to promote tissue development and regeneration
  • Modeling genetic diseases in a dish
  • The potential of human stem cell therapies
  • Ethical considerations in stem cell research and therapies
  • Examining fact from fiction in stem cell-based literature and popular press


  • Writing project 40%
  • Weekly quizzes and participation 15%
  • Peer review 15%
  • Presentations 30%



This course is based on the primary literature (journal articles), which will be provided as supplementary material. There is no required text book.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.