McMaster University

DNA Decoded

Taught in English

Some content may not be translated

40,807 already enrolled

Course

Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Caitlin Mullarkey
Felicia Vulcu

Instructors: Caitlin Mullarkey

4.8

(1,207 reviews)

Intermediate level
Some related experience required
22 hours to complete
3 weeks at 7 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

Details to know

Shareable certificate

Add to your LinkedIn profile

Assessments

28 quizzes

See how employees at top companies are mastering in-demand skills

Placeholder
Placeholder

Earn a career certificate

Add this credential to your LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV

Share it on social media and in your performance review

Placeholder

There are 4 modules in this course

In this module, we'll explore the molecular structure of DNA. What is DNA? What are the basic building blocks of DNA? Where can you find DNA within a cell? We'll learn about how James Watson and Francis Crick were able to solve the riddle of the molecular structure of DNA by building on the work of other scientists. Their groundbreaking discovery revealed that four nucleobases (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine) combine with sugar and phosphate molecules to form the familiar double helix of DNA. We'll take a look at how the molecular structure of DNA regulates its functions; for example, how the chemical bonds (covalent and noncovalent) between these molecules allow DNA to "unzip" during replication. Then we'll take a look at how you manage to fit over three billion base pairs into each of your cells. (Here's a hint: Histones, nucleosomes, and chromosomes would be great at packing for a trip!)

What's included

7 videos4 readings6 quizzes4 discussion prompts

We've all heard DNA described as "the blueprint of life," but what does that actually mean? Each one of the approximately 20,000 genes in our bodies contains the instructions for building a protein. In this module, we'll explain how RNA copies the genetic information contained in our genes and uses this information to assemble amino acids into proteins. Scientists call this concept "Central Dogma": DNA makes RNA and RNA makes protein. We'll also explore how we transmit genetic information from one cell to another -- and what happens when things go wrong. Along the way, we'll learn about techniques (such as polymerase chain reactions and gel electrophoresis) that forensic scientists use in DNA fingerprinting. Join us this week for murder and mayhem in the lab!

What's included

8 videos4 readings9 quizzes2 discussion prompts

In this module, we'll explore the techniques scientists use to manipulate DNA. Genetic engineering has allowed us to increase crop yields, diagnose illnesses, develop vaccines, and manufacture insulin. By carefully selecting a pair of molecular scissors (restriction enzymes), scientists are able to isolate a gene of interest and insert it into plasmid DNA, turning a common bacteria (E. coli) into a molecular copying machine. This week, we'll learn that mutations are genetic errors, but that not all mutations are necessarily bad — in fact, some mutations confer a selective advantage that protects against disease. We'll explain what genetically modified organisms are (and what they are not) and weigh in on the heated debates about the ethics and safety of GMOs in popular media.

What's included

8 videos5 readings7 quizzes4 discussion prompts

What does your DNA say about you? You may have heard that you share 99% of your genetic material with everyone else on the planet. That's true, but this week we're going to take a look at the less than 1% that makes you unique. We'll kick off by discussing the Human Genome Project, the massive scientific collaboration that mapped out the sequence of all our genetic material. The technologies developed while mapping out the human genome ushered in a new age in DNA research. Now, genome-wide association studies can analyze massive amounts of data, searching for genetic variations that are associated with particular diseases. Pharmacogenomics may help determine which drugs are likely be most effective for you. Genetic genealogy tests (such as Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, and Family Tree DNA) will allow you to trace random mutations in your DNA that can provide clues to your ethnic heritage. As an added bonus, we'll discuss whether it would be possible to revive extinct species by studying ancient DNA.

What's included

9 videos7 readings6 quizzes4 discussion prompts

Instructors

Instructor ratings
4.9 (440 ratings)
Caitlin Mullarkey
McMaster University
1 Course40,807 learners

Offered by

Recommended if you're interested in Basic Science

Why people choose Coursera for their career

Felipe M.
Learner since 2018
"To be able to take courses at my own pace and rhythm has been an amazing experience. I can learn whenever it fits my schedule and mood."
Jennifer J.
Learner since 2020
"I directly applied the concepts and skills I learned from my courses to an exciting new project at work."
Larry W.
Learner since 2021
"When I need courses on topics that my university doesn't offer, Coursera is one of the best places to go."
Chaitanya A.
"Learning isn't just about being better at your job: it's so much more than that. Coursera allows me to learn without limits."

Learner reviews

Showing 3 of 1207

4.8

1,207 reviews

  • 5 stars

    86.66%

  • 4 stars

    11.26%

  • 3 stars

    1.57%

  • 2 stars

    0.41%

  • 1 star

    0.08%

EP
5

Reviewed on May 29, 2019

GB
5

Reviewed on Aug 30, 2020

AW
5

Reviewed on Aug 3, 2020

New to Basic Science? Start here.

Placeholder

Open new doors with Coursera Plus

Unlimited access to 7,000+ world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs - all included in your subscription

Advance your career with an online degree

Earn a degree from world-class universities - 100% online

Join over 3,400 global companies that choose Coursera for Business

Upskill your employees to excel in the digital economy

Frequently asked questions