Majors

At Duke Kunshan University, each major consists of an interdisciplinary set of courses that integrate different forms of knowledge and a distinct set of disciplinary courses that provide expertise in specific areas.

Global Health/Biology
The Global Health/Biology major introduces students to global health as an area of study that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. The major combines elements of natural science and social science. From the natural sciences, studies include the physical components of global health, such as biological bases of disease and the underlying factors in the physical world that incubate and spread disease. From the social sciences, classes provide an understanding of the social, political, economic and cultural elements that shape health, such as the study of cultural practices around sickness and healing, and the political factors that may influence international response to epidemics. The Biology track in Global Health provides specific additional training and expertise in the biological sciences.

Required Courses

Divisional Foundation Courses

Mathematical Foundations 1 & 2

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results.

These two courses introduce fundamental concepts of calculus, probability and computational sciences applicable to inquiry across the natural sciences. The sequence could also serve the needs of many social science students. MF1 is an introduction to differential and integral calculus that focuses on the concepts necessary for understanding the meaning of differential equations and their solutions. It includes an introduction to a software package for numerical solution of ordinary differential equations. MF2 is an introduction to probability and statistics with an emphasis on concepts relevant for the analysis of complex data sets. It includes an introduction to the fundamental concepts of matrices, eigenvectors, and eigenvalues. Exercises and problem practices in both MF1 and MF2 include applications in physics, chemistry and biology.

Integrated Science 1 & 2

Contemporary investigations in these domains increasingly span multiple disciplines, and the DKU concentrations in natural science will be designed to span essential domains of the traditional fields. This two course sequence addresses the basic principles in an integrated manner, introducing the relevant concepts as needed for interdisciplinary applications. The themes of energy and emergent phenomena are chosen to highlight the connections between the traditional sciences along with the differences in the types of phenomena they seek to describe. Laboratory components of these courses serve tutorial purposes and introduce fundamental concepts in measurement and uncertainty. IS1 examines the fundamental concept of energy and its relevance for understanding the behavior of physical, chemical, and biomolecular systems. The emphasis on energy reflects its central role in physics and technological devices, its importance in determining chemical structures, and its relevance to the function and evolutionary fitness of biological systems. Topics include thermodynamics, mechanical systems, momentum conservation, chemical bonds and reactions, and nuclear energy. IS2 introduces the scientific insights that allow us to understand natural systems with many components, from which coordinated macroscopic phenomena emerge. Topics include natural selection and evolution, fundamentals of molecular biology, and population dynamics. IS1 and IS2 are closely linked to MF1 and MF2, respectively.

Mathematical Foundations 1 & 2

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results.

These two courses introduce fundamental concepts of calculus, probability and computational sciences applicable to inquiry across the natural sciences. The sequence could also serve the needs of many social science students. MF1 is an introduction to differential and integral calculus that focuses on the concepts necessary for understanding the meaning of differential equations and their solutions. It includes an introduction to a software package for numerical solution of ordinary differential equations. MF2 is an introduction to probability and statistics with an emphasis on concepts relevant for the analysis of complex data sets. It includes an introduction to the fundamental concepts of matrices, eigenvectors, and eigenvalues. Exercises and problem practices in both MF1 and MF2 include applications in physics, chemistry and biology.

Integrated Science 1 & 2

Contemporary investigations in these domains increasingly span multiple disciplines, and the DKU concentrations in natural science will be designed to span essential domains of the traditional fields. This two course sequence addresses the basic principles in an integrated manner, introducing the relevant concepts as needed for interdisciplinary applications. The themes of energy and emergent phenomena are chosen to highlight the connections between the traditional sciences along with the differences in the types of phenomena they seek to describe. Laboratory components of these courses serve tutorial purposes and introduce fundamental concepts in measurement and uncertainty. IS1 examines the fundamental concept of energy and its relevance for understanding the behavior of physical, chemical, and biomolecular systems. The emphasis on energy reflects its central role in physics and technological devices, its importance in determining chemical structures, and its relevance to the function and evolutionary fitness of biological systems. Topics include thermodynamics, mechanical systems, momentum conservation, chemical bonds and reactions, and nuclear energy. IS2 introduces the scientific insights that allow us to understand natural systems with many components, from which coordinated macroscopic phenomena emerge. Topics include natural selection and evolution, fundamentals of molecular biology, and population dynamics. IS1 and IS2 are closely linked to MF1 and MF2, respectively.

Integrated Science 3 & 4

These two courses focus on fundamental phenomena relevant for understanding the world of our immediate experience. IS3 emphasizes the physics and chemistry concepts of oscillating systems, waves, and fields, and includes applications to human perception. In addition to their fundamental importance to physics and chemistry proper, these ideas are essential for developing an awareness of the principles employed by engineers in the construction of the electrical and optical devices that are ubiquitous in modern civilization. Topics include harmonic oscillators, sound waves, light, and reaction-diffusion patterns. IS4 has more of a chemistry/biology emphasis, with physics brought to bear as needed. It treats topics relevant to understanding organisms, biochemical engineering, and the environment. Topics include evolution, modern biology, ecosystems, hydrology, and climate. IS3 and IS4, emphasize the multiple connections between physics, biology and chemistry. In this way, these provide an integrated scientific perspective that students can carry forward into their areas of specialization.

Integrated Science 3 & 4

These two courses focus on fundamental phenomena relevant for understanding the world of our immediate experience. IS3 emphasizes the physics and chemistry concepts of oscillating systems, waves, and fields, and includes applications to human perception. In addition to their fundamental importance to physics and chemistry proper, these ideas are essential for developing an awareness of the principles employed by engineers in the construction of the electrical and optical devices that are ubiquitous in modern civilization. Topics include harmonic oscillators, sound waves, light, and reaction-diffusion patterns. IS4 has more of a chemistry/biology emphasis, with physics brought to bear as needed. It treats topics relevant to understanding organisms, biochemical engineering, and the environment. Topics include evolution, modern biology, ecosystems, hydrology, and climate. IS3 and IS4, emphasize the multiple connections between physics, biology and chemistry. In this way, these provide an integrated scientific perspective that students can carry forward into their areas of specialization.

Scientific Writing and Presentations

The course covers some of the areas of scientific communication that a scientist needs to know and to master in order to successfully promote his or her research and career. Students will learn to recognize and construct logical arguments and become familiar with the structure of common publication formats. It will help students to advance their skills in communicating findings in textual, visual and verbal formats for a variety of audiences.

Interdisciplinary Courses

Introduction to Global Health

This course introduces students to the essential features of global health as an area of study, research, and practice. One component introduces students to the historical roots of global health in colonial and tropical medicine and international health, and to the emergence of global health from public health. Students will learn how to distinguish the former from the latter. The course introduces core concepts, such as health disparity, social determinants of health, incidence versus prevalence, mortality versus morbidity, infectious versus non-communicable disease, and primary versus tertiary healthcare. Another component focuses on the global burden of disease, the metrics used to measure this burden, and the way in which infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, accidents and injuries, and the health of mothers and children interact to create complex and shifting burdens in countries around the world. Students will learn about the institutional actors who play a significant role in confronting global health challenges—the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, and countless non-governmental organizations—and about solutions that have both worked and failed. The course will also survey major global health policy efforts, from Primary Health Care to the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, and offer students a preview into the most pressing challenges facing global health in the coming decades.

Global Health Ethics

This course introduces students to ethical theories and frameworks in the context of historical and current issues in global health. As part of this context students learn about best practices and standards of care in clinical settings, so that they can make cross-cultural and transnational comparisons and use these to set up difficult ethical questions about health disparities. The course emphasizes self-reflection, cultural sensitivity, and flexibility in thinking about ethical issues in a globalized world. In the context of historical and current issues, students analyze and critique the choices of multinational, national, and local policymakers; clinicians; and researchers, with an eye to the impact these choices have on individuals, families, and communities. Students also explore ethical issues of conducting research on or working with marginalized/stigmatized populations, using case studies and the theoretical frameworks introduced in the course. Students are encouraged to think creatively about the relationship between ethics and health and to explore solutions to what appear to be ethical dilemmas in a variety of contexts. Topics include: human rights and development; the ethics of aid; differential standards of care; protection of human subjects; access to essential medicines; genetic information and confidentiality; pharmaceutical development; health information technology; placebo controlled trials; best outcomes vs. distributive justice.

Global Health Research Methods

This course introduces research methods in global health. Global health is a multi-disciplinary field, so the course considers approaches common to the behavioral and social sciences, public health, and medicine. Primary interest is the study of causal inference. Global health researchers, practitioners, and donors need to know what programs and interventions “work” and why. To answer questions of impact, the course explores randomized controlled trials, a mainstay of medical research, and spends significant time helping students understand the rationale, process, and limitations of field experiments. Randomization is not always possible or advisable, however, and researchers must build a causal argument using non-experimental methods. The course reviews several approaches, considers relevant threats to causal inference, and discusses how to improve non-experimental research designs. The course also covers research basics, such as developing and testing theory, asking good questions, understanding variability, designing good measurement, and selecting research participants. The latter part of the course turns to more specialized topics in global health research, such as cost effectiveness, community based participatory research, research on humanitarian aid, and monitoring and evaluation. Students will learn how to evaluate published and unpublished research and how to design a global health research project.

Social Determinants of Health

This course introduces students to the major social factors that affect public health at both the global and national level. Globally, students study a wide range of topics from the health impact of global income inequality, gender, and access to education, to the role of specific work place policies, among other topics. Lectures introduce a social variable (such as race or gender), discuss its theoretical underpinnings, and then link it to the current empirical evidence to health outcomes. Students learn to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the empirical evidence. The course considers the implications for intervention strategies and policy, with a focus on applicability to lower and middle-income country settings. Students also study how social factors influence health and well being, with a particular focus on national context in specific countries. Topics could include obesity, aging, socioeconomic disadvantage, access to health insurance, public health systems, the role of the media, and racial/ethnic and gender inequalities. The course provides descriptive assessments of health inequalities and analytic examinations of the mechanisms through which social factors affect health.

Disciplinary Courses

Cell and Molecular Biology

Introduces major concepts in eukaryotic cell biology with a focus on molecular biology. A major emphasis is placed on transcription, translation, protein targeting and transport. In addition, the structure and function of organelles and how they function in metabolism and energetics will be examined. The role of the cytoskeleton and extra cellular matrix in governing cell shape and motility will be addressed as well as the genetic regulation of DNA replication and its place in the cell cycle and how disruption of either can lead to cancer. The laboratory portion of the class would introduce common laboratory molecular biology techniques like DNA isolation, PCR, cloning, sequencing, immunocytochemistry and fluorescent microscopy.

Microbiology

This course examines a number of different types of microbes including bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. Classical and modern approaches to the study of microorganisms and their roles/applications in everyday life, food, medicine, research and the environment. Topics covered include microbial cell structure/function, growth, genetics, energetics/metabolism, evolution and ecology. Virology topics include structure, life cycle, modes of transmission and host ranges. Additional examination of the role of microorganisms in disease, infection and immunology. The laboratory portion would stress aseptic technique and microbial culture; molecular, cytochemical, and physiological tests for microbial identification; and fermentation and its products for food and industrial production.

Ecology of Human Health

Humans are the dominant species on Earth and ecology is key to understanding the multiple feedbacks through which their activities affect human health. Fundamental principles of ecology, from population to ecosystem levels, will be examined through the lens of human health. Topics include human population growth and carrying capacity, why we age, infectious disease dynamics, the microbiome and human health, sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable harvest of wild foods, dynamics of pollutants in food webs, ecosystem services to humans, and human impacts of climate change.

Genomics and Evolution

Examines the structure and function of genomics and the flow of genomicgenetic information from parent to progeny and through populations. Changes in genetic makeup underlie important biological processes from disease to adaptation and evolution. Topics include classical transmission genetics (inheritance, assortment, recombination), bacterial and phage genetics, gene regulation, genome structure and stability, mutation and repair, population geneticsgenomics, complex trait inheritance and genomic technologiesevaluation and modern genomic techniques. The laboratory portion examines genetic inheritance in common laboratory model systems like yeast and Drosophila with projects that show what can be learned about gene function by the examination of mutants. Mutants will be created by random mutagenesis as well as targeted recombination and CRISPR.

Introduction to Biochemistry

Provides an introduction to the chemistry of biological macromolecules from the single molecule to cellular metabolism to the whole organism level. Protein biochemistry topics include protein synthesis, folding and structure, enzyme catalysis and kinetics, and analysis methods. Cellular metabolism topics include glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, the Krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. Whole organism biochemistry/physiology topics include glycogen storage, insulin signaling and diabetes. The laboratory portion will focus on protein purification and enzymatics. Students will isolate specific proteins from both native sample and E. coli and characterize the enzyme kinetics of their purified samples.

Recommended Electives for the Major

Courses listed below are recommended electives for the major. Students can also select other courses in different divisions as electives.

Cell Signaling and Diseases

During the past several decades, exploration in basic research has yielded extensive knowledge about the numerous and intricate signaling processes involved in the development and maintenance of a functional organism. In order to demonstrate the importance and processes of cellular communication, this course will focus on cell signaling mechanisms and diseases resulting from their malfunction, such as cancer, stroke, and neuron degeneration (including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Students will be exposed to current literature and cutting edge knowledge.

Cancer Genetics

Overview of the genetic changes associated with cancer and the molecular events that transform normal cellular processes into tumor-promoting conditions. Topics include: tumor viruses, oncogenes, growth factors, signal transduction pathways, tumor suppressors, cell cycle control, apoptosis, genome instability, stem cells, metastasis, and current therapeutic approaches.

Evolution of Infectious Diseases

Covers the physiology and the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of a suite of infectious diseases. Case studies include influenza, cholera, HIV, and myxomatosis, among others, with an emphasis on pathogens infecting humans. Topics include: basic immunology, the physiology of different disease processes and transmission, the role of population size on disease transmission, the effects of climate and behavioral changes on disease dynamics, networks of disease spread, spatial spread of disease, evolution of virulence, antigenic evolution, emerging infectious diseases.

Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Physiology

The structure, function and evolution of the vertebrate body systems including skeletal, digestive, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. Emphasis on understanding the functional, evolutionary and developmental basis for the similarities and difference observed among living vertebrates. In addition, examination of the physiological principles that function within these systems using examples like neural control, gas exchange, movement, excretion and metabolism. The laboratory portion will examine the various systems (muscular, skeletal, nervous, etc.) of human and non-human anatomical specimens. It will also include experiments examining the physiological aspects of the nervous, and respiratory systems.

Developmental Biology: Development, Stem Cells, and Regeneration

Mechanisms of fertilization, control of cell divisions, diversification of cell types, organization and differentiation of cells and tissues of the organism, and patterning necessary to establish the body plan of many organisms including vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Included among these mechanisms are the roles of transcription factors in controlling the trajectories toward tissues, signal transduction, morphogenetic movements, and other mechanisms used by different plants and animals to build a functional adult. Also includes stem cell biology, regeneration of tissues, sex determination, and evolutionary mechanisms of diversification.

Career Path

Graduates can enter global health professions at the national or international levels such as non-governmental organizations, government agencies, biotechnology companies, consulting companies, and research institutions, and can pursue graduate study in global health, public policy, biology, public health, law, and policy.