Biotechnology Track

The biotechnology track in biology is designed primarily for students who wish to work in research and development at biotechnology companies. However, this track also provides training for work as a laboratory technician in university or medical research labs, or for graduate school in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology.

Like other biology majors, those in the biotechnology track, complete a rigorous core of basic science courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Intermediate level work includes cell biology, genetics, and population biology. Advanced work focuses on techniques and areas of biology that are important in the biotechnology industry, including Biochemistry I, Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Biology, and Bioinformatics. A sixth elective course may be chosen from Animal Physiology, Developmental Biology, Endocrinology, Histology, Biochemistry II, Neurobiology, and Plant Physiology. All intermediate and advanced courses include lab work.

Biotechnology companies strongly encourage undergraduates to acquire research experience and the Biology Department offers a variety opportunities for undergraduate research. Financially qualified students can gain basic research experience through the Work-Study Program. Off campus work experience can be incorporated into a research project for credit as Cooperative Study in Biology. Other students are supported by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Qualified advanced students may undertake Independent Study in a faculty or off-campus lab, which may lead to graduation with honors.

Overview of the Biotechnology Track

The past decade has seen enormous growth in the biotechnology industry. Biotechnology utilizes molecular and cellular biological processes to make commercial products in a wide range of fields, from agriculture, health care, and organic chemistry, to environmental remediation. The Greater Boston area is one of the largest biotechnology centers in the world, with over 150 companies, that are predicted to create 20,000 new jobs by the end of the decade.

The University of Massachusetts Boston Biology Department is at the forefront of biotechnology education. Since the implementation of the Masters Program in Biotechnology and Biomedical Science in 1983, virtually all of the graduates of this program have gone on to careers in biotechnology research and development, or to advanced study. Our graduates are employed at Amgen, Amicon, Biogen, Ciba Corning, Costar, Damon, Genetics Institute, Gene Trak, Genzyme, ImmuLogic, CytoMed, ProCept, T-Cell Sciences, and many other companies. Others work at medical research labs at hospitals and universities, yet others have entered PhD and MD programs. Undergraduate training has recently been focused as a biotechnology track within the biology major.

Required Courses in the BS Biotechnology Track

Intermediate Level Courses

  • General Biology I and II (Biology 111, 112), Biology 252 (Genetics)
  • Chemical Principles I and II (Chemistry 103, 104,) Biology 210 (Cell Biology)
  • Math through Calculus (Math 135/140 or 145). Population Biology (Biology 290)
  • College Physics I and II (Physics 107, 108), Organic Chemistry I and II (Chemistry 253, 254)

Advanced Courses

  • Biology 334 (Microbiology): Characterization and classification of the major groups of microorganisms, and the relationships of some of these with human beings and with the environment. Lectures and laboratory work treat distinguishing morphological, physiological, and nutritional characteristics of the bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa. Consideration of host-parasite relationships and of environmental, food, and industrial microbiology. 
    • Prerequisites: Biol 210 and Chem 104. 3 Lect Hrs, 3 Lab Hrs, 4 Credits. Mr. Shiaris.
  • Biology 378 (Introduction to Immunology): An introduction to the principles of immunology including definition of antigens and antibodies, specificity of the immune response, immunoglobin structure, the genetics of immunoglobin synthesis, cellular cooperation in the immune response, mechanism of inflammation, transplantation, diseases associated with responsiveness of the immune system. 
    • Prerequisites: Biol 210 and 252 and Chem 104, or permission of the instructor. 3 Lect Hrs, 3 Lab Hrs, 4 Credits. Mr. Beck.
  • Biochemistry 383 (Biochemistry I): In the first of a two semester sequence, the chemistry of life processes is discussed in terms of structure and biological function of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and other cellular components. Special emphasis is given to protein structure and function, enzymology, carbohydrate metabolism, transport mechanisms, energy transformations, and photosynthesis. It is recommended that Biochm 385 be taken concurrently. 
    • Prerequisites: Biol 210 or 212 and Chem 254 or permission of instructor. 3 Lecture Hrs, 3 Credits. Mr. Hagar, Mr. Sugumaran, Ms. M Torok.
  • Biochemistry 385 (Biochemistry Lab I):Laboratory course to complement Biochm 383. Experiments involving titration, purification and analysis of biological molecules. Provides training in such techniques as chromatography, electrophoresis, and enzyme kinetics. 
    • Prerequisites: Chem 254; Corequisite: Biol L383 or permission of the instructor. 1 Lect Hr, 5 Lab Hrs, 3 Credits. Mr. Sugumaran, Mr. Hagar, Ms. M Torok.
  • Biology 370 (Molecular Biology): The molecular biology and biochemistry of gene expression in procaryotes and eucaryotes. Topics include DNA structure/physical biochemistry, recombinant DNA technology, techniques in research, DNA synthesis, RNA synthesis, protein synthesis, operons, chromatin structure, regulation, oncogenes, hormones, growth factors, signal transduction, transposons, mutagenesis, DNA repair, flowering, photosynthesis, development, circadian rhythms, etc. Laboratories emphasize basic research techniques. 
    • Prerequisites: Biol L383. 3 Lect Hrs, 3 Lab Hrs, 4 Credits. Mr. Ackerman.
  • Biology 360 (Bioinformatics): This course will provide a fundamental overview of bioinformatics, which is the collection, organization, and analysis of biological information. Topics include data searches and sewuence alignments, substitution patterns, phylogenetics, genomics, protein and RNA structure prediction, and proteomics. Designed as a required course for Biotechnology track students and other students interested in biotechnology careers or graduate study in biological sciences. 
    • Prerequisites: Biol 252/254 or permission of the instructor. 3 Hrs Lec, 3 Credits. 

Qualification Courses for Entry-Level Positions in the Biotechnology Industry

  • Biopharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and Licensing 10.55: Biopharmaceutical GMP examines the regulatory framework in which "drugs," "biologicals," and "cellular therapies" are evaluated in the United State,, including laws, regulations, and the state of industrial practice. Students learn about licensing biotechnology products, clinical trials, and license applications and requirements. 3 credits, 3 contact hours, senior standing required.
  • Biology 555L Pharmaceut/Pract/Lic 3 cr: Biopharmaceutical GMP is taught by Professor Randall Swartz of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Chemical Engineering Department, who has more than 20 years experience working in the biotechnology industry. Biopharmaceutical GMP provides invaluable preparation for entry level positions in quality assurance and quality control in the biotechnology industry. BioL 555L will not count toward the biology major. The course is offered spring semester by two-way, interactive video telecommunication with UMass Lowell. Please note that the course will almost certainly be offered in the evening, probably 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and will probably begin some time in the middle of January (while UMass Boston is in inter-session). In addition, because the video link with UMass Lowell is expensive to operate, at least 10 UMass Boston students must enroll in the course; if fewer than 10 students enroll, the course will be canceled. For additional information regarding the Lowell class BIOL 555L, please contact Manickam Sugumaran via email at