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Introduction to Life Sciences

Check information on the French version of the description

Course code : BIO-IN-G02-S1

Course name : Introduction to Life Sciences

Coordinator : Morgane Thomas-Chollier

ECTS : 3

Language : French

Keywords : cell organization, transcription, translation, cell cycle, regulation, signalization, morphogenesis, phenotypic variation, speciation, phylogenetic reconstruction, evolution

Prerequisites for the course : None

Course objectives and description :

This introductive course is designed to allow non-biologists to access basic knowledge necessary for any understanding of the modes of organization, functioning and evolution of living organisms. It is a prerequisite for following most of the courses designed for non-biologists and constitutes the first step in dual tracks with biology. Its major objectives are as follows:

• to allow a deep understanding of what makes the originality, unity and diversity of living organisms
• to provide essential information on the central machinery in charge of heredity, expression of genetic information and adaptation phenomena and on its control mechanisms and their pathological deregulation
• to provide an introduction to key mechanisms in species origin and evolution
• to illustrate through various examples the methodologies that allow access to this knowledge and their limits


Life unity: life chemistry, proteins and nucleic acids, cell organization, metabolism, membranes, signalling and cell communication, cell cycle, heredity, from DNA to proteins, regulation of gene expression, molecular medicine, development and morphogenesis.

Life diversity: individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems: phenotypic variation and emerging properties of populations. Interaction networks between populations: structure, robustness, evolution. Community diversity and ecosystem functioning. Evolution: genetic markers, species notion and principles of phylogenetic reconstruction. History of characters and evolutionary innovation. Evolution of cooperation and selection levels. Speciation process.

Methodologies for studying and manipulating genes and genomes: Basic methodologies (in vitro recombination, cartography, sequencing...). Molecular cloning (principles, strategies for gene isolation, manipulation of single genes). Genetically modified organisms (transgenesis, gene knock-out, gene mutation and replacement, ethic considerations).

Assessment / evaluation : Written exam

Course material (hand-outs, online presentation available, …) : -

Suggested readings in relationship with the module content (textbook chapters, reviews, articles) : Life, The Science of Biology (Savada)