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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX


Read fully to understand the verified-certificate option. Join Professor Eric Lander and the MITx Biology team in an exciting learning experience available for free to all enrolled learners. The 7.00x Introductory Biology course materials are available for exploration and completion by registering as an auditor or verified-track learner, including video, interactive problem sets, and exams. We strongly encourage you to work through the activities, towards a goal of learning biology. We have optimized the course settings for learning: instant feedback after trying problems and all content available at all times for self-paced progress. You receive feedback on correctness of answers, but the problem submissions do not count toward the grade for a certificate. Instead, we offer a thorough and robust means of certifying edX learners in their mastery of the MITx introductory biology content, through a the MITx 7.00x Introduction to Biology Competency Exam. This challenging option is available only to those who register for the verified-certificate track, and successful completion of this exam is the only assessment that counts toward a certificate. We highly recommend preparing for the Competency Exam certification by using the current course materials and MIT OpenCourseWare problems. The Competency Exam is offered in the last week of every course run.

7.00x is an introductory level biology course hosted by professor Eric Lander, who was one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project. The course content reflects the topics taught in the MIT introductory biology courses and many biology courses across the world. As a learner, you will first focus on the structure and function of macromolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins. You will discover how changes in the structure of some of these macromolecules alter their functions and what the implications of such changes have on human health. As you continue in the course, you will apply an understanding of heredity and information flow within cells to human health and disease and will learn about molecular biological techniques and their potential to impact our changing world. After you complete this course, you will have a foundation in biology that will allow you to understand the remarkable medical revolution going on today.

MITx 7.00x: Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life will let you explore the mysteries of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA technology and genomics, and rational medicine. Good luck in your journey!

Taught by

Eric S. Lander and Graham Walker

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4.9 rating, based on 93 reviews

Start your review of Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life

  • Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    My class was taught by Dr. Eric Lander. If you don't know who that is, look him up on Wikipedia and be prepared to be impressed. It's the equivalent of taking beginning guitar lessons from Eddie Van Halen. As a teacher, Dr. Lander has the gift of making...
  • Genevieve L'heureux

    Genevieve L'heureux completed this course, spending 20 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    If you’re looking for a class where you can simply take notes and pass tests by rote memorization, read no more: this is NOT the class for you. If you are looking to be challenged, to be engaged, and to actively have a concrete understanding of the concepts...
  • Javier Pizarro completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It is an amazing course if you need to learn the fundamentals in order to take more advanced courses or if you just want to have a good grasp of biology to understand some exciting current developments that are going on. That doesn't mean it's easy, if...
  • Wandalen completed this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Unfortunately, this course designed not to teach, but only to earn money. There is no support or feedback from people behind of the course. Nobody cares if you will get a question or will find an error. Many problems designed ungainly, lubberly, have...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The lectures are really great, and Eric Lander is knowledgeable and engaging, but there is a disconnect between what it taught and what is tested on. It seems like what is taught is very generalized, but the problem sets and exams are exceedingly detailed...
  • Heavenly Frazier is taking this course right now, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    When I first took the course in 2016, I was excited. It was my first MOOC and was easy enough for someone who didn't have a background in biology to begin. Lander explains everything clearly, adds in a few jokes as well, and has lecture notes in case you missed anything. You can take this class despite having no idea what biology is and leave with a great idea. I dropped the class due to time but have restarted it and love it just as much. There's resources for a lot of the topics and makes you want to learn more. If you take proper notes, you can easily get all of the work correct. I'm currently on week 1 and have no problems with the course! Take this course and you will not regret it!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This class included very informative lectures and tutorials as well as up-to-date software to apply the concepts taught in the course. Not only did the assignments and exams reinforce the concepts I had learned in the lectures, they helped be gain a deeper understanding of what has been taught.

    The lectures and the assignments were so well put together they complemented each other in the learning process. The course included a lot of information on recent discoveries in the field of genomics and their applications in rational medicine, relevant to the lives of many today.
  • Jason Galloway

    Jason Galloway completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    This is THE online course to take. Dr. Lander is not only an accomplished scientist, but also a gifted teacher. Also, the MIT staff does its best to make the most of the online platform and leverages technology for the course to a degree I've never seen anywhere else.

    The result is a truly amazing course that raises the bar for MOOCs in general. If you are at all interested in the subject, or are looking for a class to inspire you, take this one!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    This is a fantastic class - I don't have any background in chemistry or biology (not even in high school) and I found it challenging but achievable. It definitely requires a lot of work to really get to grips with the material but it's presented in every possible way to help you understand it. Definitely the best course of it's type I've seen.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course furnishes the student with a toolkit to understand contemporary biology. It includes biochemistry, genetics, the rapport between these two subjects. After doing that, you have the opportunity to study molecular biology, which will allow you...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I dont agree with my precursor! This Course is just great in every aspect. Eric Lander is a modern Popstar in Biology and his course is a masterpiece. It really encourage you to stay with the course. The problems are just right and you are able to use the theory u just learned in those problem sets via great tools.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    GREAT GREAT course!

    The lectures are very well structured and Dr. Eric Lander is such a good teacher.
    He explains all the complexity in the world of Biology in a perfectly and very interesting way. You do get addicted to this course!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I took this course, including the complementary exam which I successfully passed. My background is Engineering and computational, and I started learning this course in order to get some biological background for a PhD I am starting in genomic sequencing....
  • Anonymous
    My first MOOC. It was superb! What a great thing to do to stimulate the brain while laying low because of COVID! As a retired pediatrician with a MSC in biochem pharmacology (late 70's), this was so good, I would like to be young and starting my career...
  • This course combines exciting, cutting-edge content with such a well-crafted format that even over the net it feels like a group-learning exercise. Professor Lander is probably the best of the numerous graduate and post-graduate lecturers I've experienced...
  • Anonymous
    I graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 1973 and decided to refresh myself with this class in order to pursue molecular biology and bioinformatics after a long career in IT. I have been blown away with the design and delivery of the course....
  • Finbarr P
    I found 7.00x to be a great learning experience. The reasons I took it were to learn more about cancer biology and treatments as I am in recovery from leukaemia, and to understand more about viruses due to the pandemic. I also wanted to get a deeper understanding...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent course. It is obvious from attending that this is NOT A CLASSIC MOOC course. The faculty involved in the organization invested a great deal of effort in setting up resources in order to offer a complete and well-researched package to the student. It...
  • Anonymous
    This course is excellent. The overall experience was one of discovery with history and interesting memes found no where else. The testing is extremely vigorous. This is not your average Biology class. It has a wonderful hard core flavor and intensity....
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I took the course in 2017. Till this day, genetics is my favorite subject and Eric Lander is my favorite professor.

    The courses start with the theme of getting you ready for the course. A quick introduction to what they are going to cover in lecture 1. I think a 13-year-old can take this course. It seems so simple to understand! This course doesn't go too fast, it takes time as an intro course and skims across all the subjects in molecular biology. He writes on whiteboards with clear handwriting and, the pictures are in a page at the end of the lecture for notetaking.

    I was so happy for this course, that I came back to the course in 2019. I now serve as a TA for the course. I hope to see you there!

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