Biology 446 - Unsolved Problems in Cell Biology - Fall 2016

Meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:10 AM-11:00 AM, Genome Sciences Building Room 1374.

Albert Harris:
Office 103 Wilson Hall; phone 919-966-1230
Home phone 919-493-1572 (Durham)

Office Hours: 11:00 to 1:00 Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and by appointment



Wed. August 24: Philosophy of Science Assignment: Read this web page.

Fri. August 26: Assignment: Read the book "The Double Helix" by James Watson

Mon. August 29: Continue discussing the lessons of Watson's autobiography.


Wed. August 31: Bone Formation and Osteoporosis

Wed. September 7: Links to videos of osteoclasts and bone formation


Mon. September 12: Begin autoimmune diseases:

Wed. September 14: continuing with multiple sclerosis:


Fri. September 16: Finish discussion of MS and other autoimmune diseases


Mon. September 19:

Wed. September 21:

Fri. September 23


Mon. September 26

Written assignment on MS treatment due


Mon. October 3


Wed. October 5


Fri. October 7


Tues. October 11


Mon. October 17


Wed. October 19


Wed. October 26


Fri. October 28


Mon. October 31


Wed. Nov. 2


Fri. Nov. 4


Wed. Nov. 9


Fri. Nov. 11


Wed. Nov. 16


Fri. Nov. 18


Mon. Nov. 28


Wed. Nov. 30



Format of the final exam.

review questions for the final exam   No more questions will be added.



James Watson mentions that he was stimulated to go into science by reading the book "Microbe Hunters" when he was a boy. This same book is credited by every scientific biography I have read, and it also stimulated me when I read it at about age 10.

Please watch the youtube lecture. "Paul De Kruif: The Microbe Hunter and Author" presented by John Lehman, who is a Professor and administrator at ECU medical school.

And please read the article at this URL:

Another book worth reading is the novel "Arrowsmith" by Sinclair Lewis.
Inexpensive copies can often be found in local used bookstores, or you can get the entire text on line here.

Quotes from the Wikipedia article about the novel "Arrowsmith":

"Arrowsmith is arguably the earliest major novel to deal with the culture of science."
"This novel has been inspirational for several generations of pre-medical and medical students."
"Professional jealousy, institutional pressures, greed, stupidity, and negligence... also tireless dedication, and respect for the scientific method and intellectual honesty."

and about "Microbe Hunters":

"...Paul de Kruif... 1926 book, Microbe Hunters.. a bestseller for a lengthy period... has remained high on lists of recommended reading for science and inspiration for many aspiring physicians and scientists."

This entire book is posted on the web, but is NOT assigned reading for this course:



The syllabus will continue to be developed as the semester goes on.



This course requires the equivalent of a term paper, which is due to be turned in no later than the week before Thanksgiving. How to write this paper is described in the link below. You have to find a published research paper, the conclusions of which have turned out to be seriously wrong. That doesn't mean "fraudulent" and it also doesn't just mean that progress has shown the truth to be more complicated. Specific examples of appropriate papers will be discussed in class.

The Dreaded Erroneous Research Paper Assignment