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Training Program Course Requirements

In addition to their graduate option requirements, trainees in the Biotechnology Leadership Pre-doctoral Training Program must take 4 courses (RCR plus one from each group below). Individual course requirements (except the RCR) may be waived (at the discretion of the BLP Director) if the trainee can provide transcripts and syllabi showing they have satisfactorily completed an equivalent course. 

Note: links to several courses are provided for convenience, but they are often changed. If they do not work, please refer to the most current Caltech catalog where you can look them up by course number. 

Bi252 - Responsible Conduct of Research (4 units)

Note: this course is absolutely required and no substitutes are accepted. This lecture and discussion course covers relevant aspects of the responsible conduct of biomedical and biological research. Topics include guidelines and regulations, ethical and moral issues, research misconduct, data management and analysis, research with animal or human subjects, publication, conflicts of interest, mentoring, and professional advancement. This course is required of all trainees supported by NIH funds. Graded pass/fail.

Additional Responsible Conduct of Research Resources

The HHS Office of Research Integrity website is a great resource for additional educational materials, including an on-line webinar produced by ORI (Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research). Trainees are encouraged to explore these materials.

Other Required Courses

1.  ACM100ab - Introductory Methods of Applied Mathematics (24 units)

First quarter: complex analysis: analyticity, Laurent series, singularities, branch cuts, contour integration, residue calculus. Second quarter: ordinary differential equations. Linear initial value problems: Laplace transforms, series solutions. Linear boundary value problems: eigenvalue problems, Fourier series, Sturm-Liouville theory, eigenfunction expansions, the Fredholm alternative, Green’s functions, nonlinear equations, stability theory, Lyapunov functions, numerical methods.


BE/Bi 103 - Data Analysis in the Biological Sciences (9 units)

Prerequisites: CS 1 or equivalent; Bi 1, Bi 1x, Bi 8, or equivalent, or instructor’s permission. This course covers a basic set of tools needed to analyze quantitative data in biological systems, both natural and engineered. Students will analyze real data in class and in homework. PyTHON will be used as the programming language of instruction. Topics will include regression, parameter estimation, outlier detection and correction, error estimation, image processing and quantifcation, denoising, hypothesis testing, and data display and presentation. Instructor: Bois. Offered first term only.


Bi/CNS/NB 195 - Mathematics in Biology (9 units) 

Prerequisites: Multi-variable calculus. This course develops the mathematical methods needed for a quantitative understanding of biological phenomena, including data analysis, formulation of simple models, and the framing of quantitative questions. Topics include: probability and stochastic processes, linear algebra and transforms, dynamical systems, scientific programming. Instructor: Meister. Given in alternate years; offered first term 2015–16.


Bi/BE/CS 183: Introduction to Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (9 units)
Biology is becoming an increasingly data-intensive science. Many of the data challenges in the biological sciences are distinct from other scientific disciplines because of the complexity involved. This course will introduce key computational, probabilistic, and statistical methods that are common in computational biology and bioinformatics. We will integrate these theoretical aspects to discuss solutions to common challenges that reoccur throughout bioinformatics including algorithms and heuristics for tackling DNA sequence alignments, phylogenetic reconstructions, evolutionary analysis, and population and human genetics. We will discuss these topics in conjunction with common applications including the analysis of high throughput DNA sequencing data sets and analysis of gene expression from RNA-Seq data sets. Instructors: Pachter, Thomson.


2.  Bi110 - Introduction to Biochemistry (12 units)

Lectures and recitation introducing the molecular basis of life processes, with emphasis on the structure and function of proteins. Topics will include the derivation of protein structure from the information inherent in a genome, biological catalysis, the intermediary metabolism that provides energy to an organism, and the use of DNA manipulations, cloning, and expression of proteins in foreign hosts to study protein structure and function. This requirement will be waived upon request for trainees who have completed any course for which Bi110 is a pre-requisite.


MedE101 - Introduction to Clinical Physiology and Pathophysiology for Engineers (9 units)

The goal of this course is to introduce engineering scientists to the classical physiological systems and give real clinical medicine relevance to the content. Following the first week of introductory lectures on the functional organization of the human body and basic cell function, a series of weekly lectures will review practical human physiology and pathophysiology: (cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, renal, gastrointestinal, nervous system, immunology, and special topics).


ChE/BE 163 - Introduction to Biomolecular Engineering (12 units)

The course introduces rational design and evolutionary methods for engineering functional protein and nucleic acid systems. Rational design topics include molecular modeling, positive and negative design paradigms, simulation and optimization of equilibrium and kinetic properties, design of catalysts, sensors, motors, and circuits. Evolutionary design topics include evolutionary mechanisms and tradeoffs, fitness landscapes, directed evolution of proteins, and metabolic pathways. Some assignments require programming (Python is the language of instruction). Prerequisites: Bi/Ch 110 or instructor's permission and CS 1 or equivalent.

3. E/SEC 102. - Scientific and Technology Entrepreneurship. 9 units (3-0-6); third term.

This course introduces students to the conceptual frameworks, the analytical approaches, the personal understanding and skills, and the actions required to launch a successful technology-based company. Specifically, it addresses the challenges of evaluating new technologies and original business ideas for commercialization, determining how best to implement those ideas in a startup venture, attracting the resources needed for a new venture (e.g., key people, corporate partners, and funding), organizing and operating a new enterprise, structuring and negotiating important business relationships, and leading early stage companies toward “launch velocity”.


E/SEC 103 - Management of Technology. 9 units (3-0-6); first term.

A course intended for students interested in learning how rapidly evolving technologies are harnessed to produce useful products or fertile new area for research. Students will work through Harvard Business School case studies, supplemented by lectures to elucidate the key issues. There will be a term project where students predict the future evolution of an exciting technology. The course is team-based and designed for students considering choosing an exciting research area, working in companies (any size, including start-ups) or eventually going to business school. Topics include technology as a growth agent, financial fundamentals, integration into other business processes, product development pipeline and portfolio management, learning curves, risk assessment, technology trend methodologies (scenarios, projections), motivation, rewards and recognition. Industries considered will include electronics (hardware and software), aerospace, medical, biotech, etc. Students will perform both primary and secondary research and through analysis present defensible projections.


BEM 110 - Venture Capital. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: BEM 102, 103.

An introduction to the theory and practice of venture capital financing of start-ups. This course covers the underlying economic principles and theoretical models relevant to the venture investment process, as well as the standard practices used by industry and detailed examples. Topics include: The history of VC; VC stages of financing; financial returns to private equity; LBOs and MBOs; people versus ideas; biotech; IPOs; and CEO transitions.



Caltech Library Workshop - "Patents"
Hannah Dvorak Carbone, from the Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships, presents a review of the patenting process, including changes introduced by the America Invents Act of 2013. This is followed by a Caltech Librarian presenting a brief overview of patent searching, locating English language patent equivalents, legal status issues, and current awareness techniques. This class is offered periodically and is typically held in Sherman Fairchild Library 328 (Multimedia Conference Room). Hannah also gives a guest lecture each year in Bi252 (Responsible Conduct of Research) that covers aspects of the patenting process.

Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs

A week-long course offered by The American Society for Cell Biology and Keck Graduate Institute. The course introduces PhD scientists to the competencies they need to thrive in industry and exposes them to the culture and infrastructure of life sciences companies through MBA-style case-based teaching, professional development sessions, and a team-based project. Learn about the process through which academic science is commercialized, and gain invaluable insight into the way industry views scientific research. Learn about careers for scientists in industry, and how to best leverage your analytical PhD skill set.

CaltechY Science Policy Trips

The CaltechY organizes periodic trips to various locations within the US that allow students to learn more about science policy. For example, see the info about the January 2018 trip to the San Francisco area. Keep an eye on the CaltechY page for trips, activities and leadership opportunities that may be of interest.

Caltech OTTCP Workshops and Seminars on Entrepreneurship and Commercialization

The team at Caltech's Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnership coordinate a number of workshops and seminars each year on topics related to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. Recent events have included an I-Corps Lean Startup Workshop and a panel session on how to use federal resources to avoid being targeted by intellectual property predators. Check out their events page for current info.

 Caltech's E-Club Highlights Entrepreneurship Activities

Visit the Caltech e-club website and sign up for their newsletter if you are interested in local and global entrepreneurship activities.