Genetics, Epigenetics and Human Behavior

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 15, 2019 - August 02, 20197/15 - 8/02M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenJohn McGeary

Course Description

The completion of the Human Genome Project may be the most important scientific achievement of our lifetime, but how much can genes tell us about complex human behavior? How much does the environment impact human behavior? What kind of research techniques can be used to identify specific genes and specific environments that influence behavior?

Behavioral genetics is a field of study that combines statistics and molecular biology to answer these questions. This course will provide an overview to the exciting and increasingly important field of behavioral genetics. Topics such as personality, substance abuse, mental health, and sexuality will be addressed. Examples of cutting edge research currently being conducted in the Departments of Psychiatry and Community Health at Brown University will be used to stimulate discussions. Students will be able to grasp basic genetic concepts in this course and be able to apply them to a more tangible (and perhaps more interesting) subject such as behavior.

Students will have assigned readings in a primary text, and they will be required to read a small booklet of additional scientific research papers. Class discussion of the readings is vital to this course. Students will choose a topic that they would like to research further and present the material to the class. Students will also take field trips to learn basic genotyping techniques in an active genetics laboratory and will be given the opportunity to work with their own DNA. In addition, a student-written paper discussing their findings will be due on the last day of class.

Prerequisites: Completion of a high school biology course is recommended.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPY0906
  • Length: 3 weeks
  • Supplemental Fee: $200

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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