Courses of Study 2022-2023 
    Dec 05, 2022  
Courses of Study 2022-2023

Genetics, Genomics and Development

In the Biological Sciences program .

In addition to the concentration requirements outlined below, all students must complete the Biological Sciences foundation requirements:

The fields of Genetics, Genomics and Development seek to understand the mechanisms used by living organisms to preserve biological information and transmit it to the next generation. Central to these questions is the study of DNA and its organization into genes and genomes. Advances in molecular biology have provided many tools for the analysis of gene function, as well as for the understanding of how mutations affect biological processes and cause disease. Genetic engineering methods to manipulate gene function also constitute important research tools in biology. Work in several disciplines within Genetics is contributing to increase our understanding of how the information encrypted in DNA is decoded to influence cellular processes (Regulation of Gene Expression) and form complete organisms (Developmental and Stem Cell Biology), as well as to appreciate how genetic variation leads to evolutionary changes within populations (Evolutionary and Population Genetics). In the last few years, improvements in DNA sequencing technologies have allowed geneticists to expand the scope of their studies, shifting from the study of individual genes to the analysis of whole genomes.  Research in this expanding area of Genomics is providing unprecedented views of the organization and functional elements of our genomes. Additionally, whole genome-sequencing and computational genomics methods have opened exciting venues for the diagnosis of congenital human disorders and genetic predisposition to disease.

The Genetics, Genomics and Development (GGD) concentration requires at least 13 credits chosen from any of the courses indicated below. Courses have been classified into broad areas for guidance purposes. Students can choose courses in one or several of these areas to satisfy their concentration requirements.  Many of these courses explore current research topics and new technologies, exposing students to the latest discoveries and primary literature.

Students are strongly encouraged to perform undergraduate research in a professor’s laboratory to gain practical experience. There are a large number of laboratories on campus that perform research related to the areas of Genetics, Genomics and Development in a variety of model organisms. Research areas currently pursued at Cornell include:

  1. Genetic studies in baker’s yeast, fruit flies, plants, mice, and other model organisms aimed at understanding cell cycle control & cancer, signal transduction, DNA replication, DNA repair, chromosome segregation, gene expression and viral life cycles.
  2. Functional and computational genomic analyses aimed at understanding gene regulation and the genetics of complex traits in both model organisms and in humans.
  3. Studies to unravel the mechanisms that mediate reproduction and fertilization, promote cell differentiation and morphogenesis during embryonic development, and regulate stem cell pluripotency and tissue regeneration in adult organisms. Research on these topics uses a variety of model organisms such as fruit flies, nematodes, planaria, plants, chicken and mice, with the ultimate goal of uncovering the genetic factors that influence congenital birth defects, human disease and longevity.
  4. Research aimed to understanding genetic variation and molecular evolution within and across different populations, including model organisms and humans.

Instruction in the fields of Genetics, Genomics and Development prepares students for a variety of professional careers. Some of Cornell’s GGD graduating students continue their education in graduate, medical or veterinary schools. Others pursue professions in biotech, pharmacological or agricultural industries, education, scientific publishing or health/science law & policy. The growing capabilities of genome sequencing and prenatal diagnosis are expected to increase the demand for professionals trained to interpret genomic information, develop clinical protocols for the diagnosis of genetic diseases and provide genetic counseling.

Genetics, Genomics and Development Requirements

  • All requirements must be taken for letter grade unless the course is offered S/U only. Exceptions to the grading option and any course substitutions must be approved via the biological sciences petition. Students are encouraged to discuss exceptions and course substitutions with their faculty advisor prior to submitting petition.
  • A grade of D- or better must be obtained to count course for concentration.
  • A minimum of 13 credits of concentration requirements.
    Students are required to complete a minimum of 13 credits, usually chosen from the following courses:


Students planning to pursue studies in Genomics after graduation are encouraged to learn computer programming and statistical analysis (including Python, MATLAB and R environments). Some introductory courses covering these topics are: STSCI 2150  (R), BTRY 3010  (R), BIOG 1500  (R), CS 1110  (Python), CS 1133  (Python), CS 1112  (Matlab), CS 1132  (Matlab). Credit for these courses should not be counted towards the GGD concentration requirements, but can be used to satisfy college distribution requirements.

Laboratory Experience

Students seeking laboratory experience in the areas of Genetics, Genomics and Development are encouraged to participate in Undergraduate Research through enrollment in BIOG 4990 .


Up to 3 credits for this concentration may be chosen from other biological sciences courses upon approval. Students seeking approval for courses not listed above should petition to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the GGD concentration.

Course Offerings in Genetics, Genomics and Development

 A complete list of BIOMG courses