Biology 446 - Unsolved Problems in Cell Biology - Fall 2019

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
Office Hours: 11:00 to 12:00 Monday and Wednesday, and by appointment



Wed. August 22: Philosophy of Science Assignment: Please read this web page.

Fri. August 24: Assignment: Read the book "The Double Helix" by James Watson

Mon. August 27: Continue discussing the lessons of Watson's autobiography.


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.

There is a YouTube video called "Paul De Kruif: The Microbe Hunter and Author" presented by John Lehman, who is a Professor and administrator at ECU medical school. This is nearly an hour long, and is not required, but you may find it interesting.
"Paul De Kruif: The Microbe Hunter and Author"

Please do read the article at this URL:

From the Wikipedia article about 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:


Another book worth reading, but not required, is the novel "Arrowsmith" by Sinclair Lewis.
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."



Reading, links, and written assignments:

Reading assignment on fibroblast traction, to be done by Wednesday, September 4th

Genetic screens, discussed in class

A paper I published last year on shape homeostasis.


Written assignment due Wednesday, September 18th


Gastric Ulcers and Helicobacter pylori

Please read this page and look at the links for Monday, September 23.


Class notes for Wednesday, September 25: bone formation

Wikipedia image to be discussed in class

Reading and written assignment, due Friday, October 11th

For Monday, October 14: Please look at this page of notes on the immune system
and also these notes on multiple sclerosis

October 21st class: A list of drugs used to treat MS . None of them are cures.


November 11th class notes: macrophages .

November 13th class notes: contact inhibition .


Format of the final exam.

Review questions for the final exam

Dr. Harris will be in his office from 10 am until 2 pm on Monday December 9 through Thursday December 12th.



This course requires the equivalent of a term paper, which is due to be turned in no later than the Friday 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

Assigned class reports and participation in class discussion will also be part of the grade.