Molecular and Cell Biology 90B, Section 1

Insulin as a Window on Discovery in Biology (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Randy W. Schekman
Tuesday 4:00-5:00, 301 Barker Hall, Class number: 26964

The discovery and therapeutic application of insulin was one of the most dramatic developments in twentieth-century biomedical science. We will consider the impact of insulin in protein biochemistry, and molecular and cell biology. We will also explore the role of the individual scientist in the process of discovery and the importance of animal research in biomedical science. The Discovery of Insulin by Michael Bliss will be available in the student bookstore and Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesize a Human Gene by Stephen S. Hall will be provided in class because it is out of print. Glory Enough For All, a Canadian film and dramatic portrayal of the insulin story, will be available for viewing. For additional information about insulin and its status as the first "miracle drug", use the related web site link below this seminar description to access an article that appeared in the New York Times.

Instructor Bio

Randy Schekman is the past Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Biology. In 2013 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the mechanism of transport of membrane and secretary proteins within the eukaryotic cell (

Faculty web site:


Students considering a major in Molecular and Cell Biology as well as all other interested students are welcome to enroll. This seminar is open to all students interested in the discovery process in the life sciences. A background in high school biology will be useful; AP biology is particularly appropriate preparation for the material we cover.

This seminar is part of the following programs

Food for Thought