Industries: Pharma / Biotech

Introduction to Molecular Biology Techniques – Applications in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries

Course Director: Robert Farrell, Ph.D.

Course Description - Course runs 9:00 - 5:00 on Day 1 & Day 2 -- 9:00 - 3:00 on Day 3

Molecular biology pertains to the study of living systems at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels, and how these molecules can be modified and harnessed for practical applications. Knowledge of the natural function of these molecules in the cell provides a context appropriate for further advancement in the rapidly expanding areas of functional genomics, cell biology, biotechnology, microbiology, diagnostics, therapeutics, and personalized medicine. This course, intended for the non-specialist, will focus on selected aspects of biotechnology in both basic- and applied research. In particular, the structural and functional relationships of molecular biology techniques to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries will be explained. Modern day molecular biology innovations and success stories will be presented and examples of molecular applications will be highlighted. At the end of the course, the participant will be conversant with respect to standard terminology in the field and will have an appreciation for the opportunities that exist within this discipline.

Who Should Attend

This is a three-day course for those interested in learning both fundamental and advanced-level molecular biology techniques. Molecular biology methods are used extensively in modern day drug discovery, research and development, and diagnostics. This course is intended for personnel with some scientific background who are seeking basic and advanced-level molecular biology training and who wish to become conversant within the discipline. This informative course is attractive to personnel involved with, or participating in, molecular biology-related and biotechnological research, supervision, scale-up or manufacturing, other technical operations, or basic/applied research.

Course Agenda

First Day

Principles of Molecular Biology Techniques

  • Review of basic and advanced information on DNA, RNA, and proteins. Potential applications of molecular biology techniques in drug and biomarker discovery will be introduced and revisited throughout the course

DNA Techniques

  • Isolation and purification of DNA samples from different cell types and tissues, quantification procedures, restriction digestion and analysis, ligation of DNA to create recombinant molecules and “designer genes”
  • Southern Blotting: agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA transfer techniques, isotopic and nonisotopic probe labeling methods, hybridization, x-film exposure, interpretation of results

RNA Techniques

  • Isolation, purification and characterization of RNA from cells and tissues, quantification procedures, and the control of ribonuclease
  • Northern Blotting: denaturing gel electrophoresis, RNA transfer techniques, isotopic and nonisotopic probe labeling methods, hybridization, x-film exposure, interpretation of results.
  • Nuclease Protection Assays (S1 Assay and RNase Protection Assays)

In Situ Hybridization

  • Chromosome in situ hybridization diagnostics
  • Whole tissue in situ hybridization

Applications of Biotechnology: A Few Success Stories

  • Biosimilars
  • Aptamers
  • Forensics and DNA fingerprinting
  • Disease diagnosis
  • Gene Therapy
  • Agricultural biotechnology

Second Day

Proteomics Technologies

  • Overview of proteomics techniques
  • Relationship to genomics and transcriptomics
  • Production and purification of recombinant proteins
  • Monoclonal antibodies

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

  • Real-Time PCR platforms (TaqMan Assay, SYBR Green Assay, and others)
  • End-point PCR
  • Digital PCR
  • Primer design, TA cloning, TOPO Cloning, Long-range PCR, limiting PCR carryover contamination
  • Alternative amplification platforms

DNA Sequencing

  • Next generation sequencing
  • Massively parallel sequencing
  • 454 sequencing
  • Whole transcriptome sequencing
  • Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) applications in drug discovery

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

  • Identification and characterization techniques
  • SNPs and drug discovery


  • Overview of bioinformatics methods, BLAST searches, standard tools and data bases, and essential vocabulary

Development of molecular biomarkers

  • DNA, RNA, and protein biomarkers
  • Physiological biomarkers
  • miRNA as biomarkers
  • Strategies for biomarker identification

Third Day


  • cDNA synthesis overview
  • Standard gene cloning methods
  • cDNA library construction

High Throughput Screening Methods

  • Microarrays and Gene Chips
  • Design and applications of gene chip technology
  • Applications in drug discovery and development

Global Analysis of Gene Expression

  • Suppression Subtractive Hybridization (SSH)
  • Acquisition of up-and down-regulated genes

RNA Interference (RNAi)

  • Fundamentals of RNAi and siRNA techniques and applications in modern day drug discovery
  • miRNA as molecular biomarkers

Stem Cells

  • Terminology
  • Current state of the art
  • Future potential


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will have gained an understanding of techniques that are currently being utilized in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. You will be familiar with concepts pertaining to basic molecular biology principles and techniques for understanding various contemporary areas of research and their applications. You will have acquired the facility for communication with colleagues and associates in various areas of molecular biology.


"Course content was well laid out and presented in a logical and understandable manner. Course provided a very good starting point for further understanding of the topics presented. Excellent review of key techniques in molecular biology." Nicole B., Senior Research Technologist, DRDC Suffield - Canada
"Very well organized. Very good use of time and the course director stayed right on schedule. Not rushed or too slow. Presented in a very motivating manner." Efrain P., Scientist, Amgen "This is an excellent foundation course for anyone who has worked in or considering working in molecular biology. I really enjoyed this course because it gave me a more thorough understanding of concepts and techniques I am already familiar with, as well as exposing me to newer, different concepts and techniques I did not know before." Rae-Ann C., QA Document Control Specialist, Ashland, Inc. "This is an EXCELLENT course! I strongly recommend it to health science professionals wish to learn about molecular biology techniques. The course director has done an excellent job in organizing the course material." Theodore A., Professor, University of Central Florida "Working as a scientist in R&D in a major pharmaceutical company, I found this training course most useful. We were given both theory and applicable molecular biology techniques from very general information to very detailed information in an easy, understandable format. The course director did a superb job at delivering this training course. I feel I can take many useful techniques and knowledge back to work to aid in troubleshooting, and I also feel more confident in engaging discussions." Joanna C., Scientist, Sanofi-Aventis
"Very knowledgeable and engaging instructor. Very current knowledge! Extremely experienced, top notch facility as always." Virginia J., Clinical Resource Analyst, Wyeth
"Worthwhile to travel half the globe to attend." Jou Y., Doctor, Singhealth Services Pte. Ltd
"Fantastic course instructor. He was very knowledgeable, lots of industry experience very well informed and experienced with the newest technology. Easy to listen to, funny, great personality which made it fun and interesting, kind with questions asked. I'd love to take another class from him in the future." Beth H., Senior Research Associate, Pioneer
"This was an excellent, comprehensive course. Teaching molecular biology from a techniques approach has greatly enhanced my understanding of application. The course director was an excellent instructor and his experience shines throughout the course." Deirdre C., Medical Microbiologist / Professor, Calgary Lab Services / University of Calgary
"The course instructor was extremely knowledgeable and patient. He answered every question with great detail." Sylvia B., Engineer, Abbott Molecular
"Great class! Basic Introduction to fundamentals and nice bridge to latest most up to date technology and detailed explanation of their principles." Sharon V., Research Associate, Genentech
"This was exactly what I was looking for. Just enough of the basics to understand the techniques. The course director was excellent." Jeannine K., Senior Supervisor, Biogen Idec