Offered degree and courses

M.Sc./ Ph.D. Biotechnology Program courses

Compulsory Core Courses:

BIO 501: Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering

BIO 502: Advanced Microbiology and Microbiological Techniques

Elective Courses:

BIO 503: Advanced enzymology and cofactors

BIO 504: Hormones (biosynthesis and action)

BIO 505: Techniques of cell and tissue cultures

BIO 506: Molecular bases of plant stresses

BIO 507: Biotechnology and food industry

BIO 508: Bioethics and bio-safety in biotechnology

BIO 601: Molecular aspects of cell signaling

BIO 602: Genomics, proteomics and metabolomics

BIO 603: Bioreactors (Design, operation and product collection)

BIO 604: Bioremediation (Cleaning polluted air, water and soil)

BIO 605: Bio-fuel production (from bacteria and algae)

BIO 606: Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides

BIO 607: Nano-biotechnology

BIO 608: Biostatistics

Project-Based Learning /Research Seminar Courses

BIO 701: Project-Based Learning in Agricultural Biotechnology

BIO 702: Project-Based Learning in Food Biotechnology

BIO 703: Seminars on Advanced Topics on Agricultural Biotechnology

BIO 704: Seminars on Advanced Topics on Food Biotechnology

BIO 501- Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering: This course gives an opportunity to provide the students with comprehensive principles and concepts underlying the principle dogma of Molecular Biology (DNA, mRNA, proteins) and the different Molecular Biology methods, including gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), microarrays and RNA sequencing technologies. Throughout the course, students will be well informed about how these methods are applied in different approaches of Biotechnology. In addition, this course will deal with the development of methods and approaches of Genetic Engineering including gene cloning and gene transfer, and production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A brief description of the bio-safety procedures that have to be considered when dealing with GMOs, will be introduced, as well. This course will include laboratory sessions covering the study of various molecular biology methods.

BIO 502- Advanced Microbiology and Microbiological Techniques: This course introduces students to the detailed biological properties (structure and replication) of viruses particularly those associated with major diseases of human, and plants. Also, this course deals with the occurrence and distribution of bacterial organisms and their structure, diversity and classification. The course will provide awareness of the transmission, epidemiology, pathogenesis and control of certain virus and bacterial groups. Furthermore, it provides students with an understanding of the basic principles of the core of fungi and micro algae taxonomic groups. Importantly, this course will introduce students to various microbiological techniques including growth limitation and sterilization, culturing and identification techniques. This course will include laboratory sessions covering the inspection and cultivation of various bacterial, fungal and algae groups.

BIO 503- Advanced Enzymology: This course will introduce the enzyme importance to living organisms and their applications in biotechnology. It will present topics related to the structure of the enzyme and its active centers, enzyme catalytic functions and kinetics. The course will give special attention to the regulation of enzyme activity and introduce the metabolic control theory. The compartmentalization of enzymes within the living cells and their organelles will be reviewed. The course will present some detailed methods for enzyme assay. Advances in enzyme biotechnology will be summarized.

BIO 504- Hormones (biosynthesis and action): This course deals with plant hormones in depth. Various topics in this course have been selected to answer main questions about plant hormones including: how they are synthesized and metabolized; how they work; what we know of the molecular aspects of the transduction of the hormonal signal. In addition, the course introduces a description of some of the roles they play in regulating plant growth and development; and their role in stimulating defensive responses. A highlight on some methods of measuring their content in plant tissues will be presented. Detailed topics will include the chemistry, biosynthesis, translocation, action and role of various plant hormones including auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, brassinosteroid, ethylene, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid and abscisic acid. The course will put an emphasis on the new findings on plant hormones coming from the expanding use of molecular biology as a tool to understand these fascinating regulatory molecules.

BIO 505- Techniques of cell and tissue cultures: This course introduces the student to the basics and applications of plant cell and tissue culture. The course presents the key topics in plant cell and tissue culture including callus cultures, cell suspension and protoplast cultures, and haploid techniques. Topics of plant propagation, meristem cultures, and somatic embryogenesis will be discussed as well. Students will study media preparation, sterilization, environmental conditions required. The course, also, includes an introduction to cell division, cell growth, and cell differentiation. This course will include laboratory sessions covering the studied theoretical topics.

BIO 506- Molecular bases of plant stresses: This course aims to provide students with comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the molecular bases of various biotic and abiotic stresses that would help them applying various strategies of biotechnology to improve the productivity of crop plants. At the molecular level, the course will discuss the plant response to different pathogens (bacteria and fungi) and to different abiotic stresses including drought, extreme temperatures, salinity and heavy metal pollution. The course will make emphasis to the involvement of different stress signaling messengers in modulating expression of relevant genes to build adaptive responses to different environmental challenges. The studied signaling messengers will include plant phyto-hormones (ABA, SA, JA and Ethylene), reactive oxygen species, calcium etc. Examples for marker genes used in engineering stress resistant crop plants will be presented.

BIO 507- Biotechnology and food industry: This module will introduce students to current research and development thinking across food biotechnology. Examples of the impact of the intersection of food science, nutrition and biotechnology on food processing, chronic disease, sensory properties and food safety will be provided. The course will describe developments in the field of dairy products and depict examples of the application of omics techniques in food analysis including food authenticity, food safety. The biotechnology applications used for the production of food bio-preservatives and food colorants will be reviewed. In addition, the topics of this course will be extended to enable students to design assessment strategies to engineer flavor profiles in plants and food materials, plan a safety assessment strategy for food developed through genetic engineering, outline the major technical considerations for detecting GM foods and for species identification in meat products. Also, this course deals with the microorganisms that live in food and effects of microbial growth on food quality. The methods used to control, detect, and enumerate microorganisms in food will be addressed. Special emphasis will be devoted to the identification and management of food microorganisms and ways to protect the consumers from microbes in food. This course will include laboratory sessions covering the theoretical topics.

BIO 508- Bioethics and bio-safety in biotechnology: This course presents definitions of bio-safety and bioethics. The course will discuss the standard laboratory procedures and practices for biotechnology research. The legal framework for biosafety, international agreements and protocols for bio-safety will be discussed. The course will also review the legal framework for global and national bioethics.

BIO 601- Molecular aspects of cell signaling: The growth, development, and environmental responses of even the simplest microorganism are determined by the programmed expression of its genes. Among multicellular organisms, turning genes on (gene expression) or off alters a cell’s complement of enzymes and structural proteins, allowing cells to differentiate and respond properly to the surrounding environment. In this course, students will be exposed to the discussion of various aspects of cell signaling including the control layer of cell signaling and modifications in protein folding and binding mediating cell signaling. Importantly, the course will make an emphasis on the two-component signaling systems, and on signaling events regulating gene expression in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. The course will discuss various aspects of the biotic and abiotic stress signaling in plants with an emphasis on the roles of plant hormones. Students will be, also, exposed to various signal transduction protocols applied in constructing cell signaling networks.

BIO 602- OMICS (genomics, proteomics and metabolomics): This course introduces the topics of OMICS including genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Equal focus is given to the technological advancements as well as their specific applications. Therefore, the course provides a comprehensive account of the state-of-the-art latest developments and trends of omics approaches in plant science. The course will present an overview about various instrumental techniques and methods used in omics. An emphasis will be devoted for reviewing the functional genomics and their applications in plant science and biotechnology. Technologies and applications of plant proteomics will be discussed. The course will also introduce an overview of plant metabolomics technology platforms and their applications in biotechnology.

BIO 603- Bioreactors: This course will discuss the key engineering issues in bioreactor design and operation. The course will introduce the basic processes that contribute to production of biological products via bioreactors. Also, this course will give an emphasis on the operating parameters in bioreactors, including: controlled temperature, optimum pH, water availability, salts for nutrition, vitamins, oxygen (for aerobic processes), gas evolution and product and byproduct removal. The various types of bioreaction systems will be covered in this course including; batch, continuous, semi-continuous, surface/tray, submerged, and air-lift loop bioreactors. An emphasis will be given to submerged liquid and solid state fermentation bioreactors. Finally, technologies under development will be referred to here, as well. Several visits to factories that use bioreactors for production of their products will be made to help students be familiar with different types of bioreactors.

BIO 604- Bioremediation (cleaning polluted air, water and soil): Environmental pollutants have become major global concern due to rapid growth of industrialization, urbanization, modern agricultural development and energy generation. The contamination of ground water, surface water, soil and air with hazardous and toxic chemicals is one of the major problems the industrialized world faces today. This course discusses bioremediation technology based remediation used on genetically modified microorganisms to restore contaminated sites and protect the environment. It studies the opportunities for more efficient biological processes in molecular biology and ecology. Notable accomplishments of these studies include the cleaning up of polluted water and contaminated land. The course discusses in detail microorganisms that enzymatically attack the pollutants and convert them into harmless products. The course will discuss various topics in bioremediation of contaminated environments including: biodegradation and bioremediation techniques for pesticides treatment, environmental nanotechnology for remediation of contaminants; biosorption in environmental remediation, genomic approaches for bioremediation, and the application of genetic engineering of plants and microbes in developing new approached for bioremediation.

BIO 605- Bio-fuel Production: Algae are the fastest-growing plants in the world. Industrial reactors for algal culture are open ponds, photobioreactors, and closed systems. This course discusses the production of algae culture and usage of algal biomass conversion products. The modern biomass-based transportation fuels including biodiesel, bio-oil, biomethane, biohydrogen, and high-value-added products from algae are briefly reviewed. The availability of algae and the advantages of algal oil for biodiesel production are reviewed as well.  Lignocelluloses are widely available and nonfood-based materials considered for the replacement of a major part of fossil-derived fuels and chemicals in the future. This course will discuss the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass, enzymatic hydrolysis technologies for the production of biofuels, bioethanol and biogas from lignocellulosic materials. Importantly, this course will review various applications of genetic engineering and metabolic modeling to improve algal and plant biomass productivity for biofuel production.

BIO 606- Bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and organic agriculture: This course gives detailed information about algalization technology. Use of cyanobacteria, micro- and -macroalgae as agricultural biofertilizers, and benfits of algalization on crops, soil characteristics and aggregation will be considered. The application of bacteria in fertilizers industry will be presented as well. The application of traditional breeding and genetic engineering for the control of pesticides will be introduced, with presenting BT and avidin proteins as a case study.

BIO 607- Nano-biotechnology: This course considers the application of the nano-science and its principles, concepts and tools in biotechnology. In addition, the possible biological applications of carbon nano-tubes and quantum dots will be reviewed. The course will make an emphasis on applications of nano-science for dynamic visualization of cellular signaling. The course will discuss applications and perspectives of nanoparticles in sustainable agriculture. Also, the course will deal with the fundamental aspects of constructing medicinal nanoparticles: from the molecular building blocks to the formation of drug carriers. This course will be continuously updated to include new discoveries and applications of nano-techniques in biological sciences.

BIO 608- Biostatistics: This course will introduce the students to data analytic and applied statistical methods commonly used in industrial and scientific applications. The module will focus on computer-aided data analysis using comparisons between batches, analysis of variance, regression and correlation. The module will also deal with estimation and hypothesis testing, multivariate analysis, and nonparametric techniques. Various concepts including, approximations and errors (accuracy and precision; errors; blunders, formulation error, and data uncertainty) will be presented as well. This course will include laboratory sessions including training and application of various concepts presented in the theoretical lectures.

BIO 701 and BIO 702- Project-Based Learning in Biotechnology: This module includes students participation in Project-Based Learning activities in new advanced topics related to the field of research, suggested by the student’s supervisors. Students will be encouraged to demonstrate knowledge and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Student’s evaluation will be based on the presented written materials and his/her participation in discussion sessions.

BIO 703 and BIO 704- Seminars on Advanced Topics in Biotechnology: This module includes series of research seminars based on self-learning and presentations of new advanced topics related to the students’ Thesis subject. The seminars will be presented by the Ph.D. students and invited specialists in different advanced research topics in the fields of specialization. The student’s evaluation is based on his/her understanding of the presented topics and presentations skills.

BiO 801– M.Sc. Thesis: For the Thesis Master’s in Biotechnology, students will be trained, with the help of their supervisors, to perform a literature review, identify important issues in a specific field and understand the scientific approach to research questions in Biotechnology, carry out a scientific study and appropriately managing the obtained data. Also, students will be trained to appreciate the ethics involved in Biology/Biotechnology research, and to express themselves clearly in science (when speaking and writing). The students will be trained and encouraged to prepare their work for publication in high impact scientific journals. The student will be guided to submit a research thesis not exceeding 60,000 words, including tables, figures and footnotes, and present an appropriate defense in an oral examination.

BIO 802 – Ph.D. Thesis: For the Thesis Ph.D’s in Biotechnology, students will be trained, with the help of their supervisors, to perform a literature review, identify important issues in a specific field and understand the scientific approach to research questions in Biotechnology, carry out a scientific study and appropriately managing the obtained data. Importantly, the Ph.D. graduate students will be provided with a complete and thorough opportunity to become a research scientist, to be exposed to the highest quality research methods and techniques in the field of Biology/Biotechnology. Also, student will be supported by an environment that fosters critical thinking. In addition, they will be provided with an appreciation for the value of multidisciplinary collaborations. The students will be trained and encouraged to prepare their work for publication in high impact scientific journals. The student will be guided to submit a research thesis not exceeding 100,000 words, including tables, figures and footnotes, and present an appropriate defense in an oral examination.