MCB 320
Mechanisms of Human Disease
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Welcome to MCB 320 (Mechanisms of Human Disease).

This course is now hosted on the Campus Moodle server.


The advent of molecular biology and the Human Genome Project have dramatically increased our understanding of the mechanisms of human disease. The underlying molecular causes for many diseases have been elucidated. This course examines how abnormalities that occur at the molecular and cellular level manifest as pathologies affecting the structure and function of human tissues and organs. In addition, this course focuses on the pathophysiology of common human diseases and the environmental, genetic and epigenetic causes of specific disease types.

Prerequisite: MCB 252 (Cells, Tissues, and Development) or instructor consent.

Course Outline

Click here to download a tentative outline for the course.


The molecular causes (mechanisms) for an overwhelming number of diseases have been partially elucidated. However, there is simply no way that we can discuss each disease or each organ system in this course. Thus, our intention is not to make this course all-encompassing; rather, we will try to present the material in a conceptual framework, providing a survey of the topic to cover some breadth, while using specific examples to add depth. With this in mind, we have two main goals for this course:

(1) The first goal is that students learn some fundamental concepts related to the mechanisms of human disease. Although we do think it is important to understand and have a good working knowledge of a specific disease, we are more concerned with students understanding the general principles common to a family of similar diseases.

(2) The second goal is that students synthesize and apply information from a variety of disciplines (e.g., biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, physiology, pathology, endocrinology, immunology, etc.) to better understand the mechanisms of disease. Learning how to synthesize material from multiple disciplines is an important part of the intellectual process and can be extremely rewarding.

For more information about this course please contact the course coordinator, Dr. Eric Bolton (