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Molecular Diagnostics

Molecular Diagnostics Certificate Program

Description of the Profession:

Molecular DiagnosticsMolecular scientists are employed in various settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Research institutions and universities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Forensics labs

In hospital-based clinical labs, molecular-based assays and procedures are now becoming the standard and/or preferred methods of testing for:

  • Presence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and BK virus in patients
  • Chromosomal rearrangements involved in leukemia and solid tumors
  • Mutations in genes encoding clotting factors
  • HIV and hepatitis C viral loads
  • DNA sequence changes causing drug resistance
  • Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections
  • Presence of metastatic cells

In research labs, molecular-based assays and methods are routine in basic and applied science to understand enzymatic activity, signal transduction pathways, mechanisms of drug action, disease processes, developmental pathways and many other key biological concepts.

Old Dominion University Certificate Program in Molecular Diagnostics:

Post-baccalaureate level courses at Old Dominion University are designed to provide the fundamental principles, advanced applications and laboratory skills needed for molecular diagnostic and molecular biology procedures conducted in a clinical or research environment. The program is intended for those individuals with a baccalaureate degree in Medical Technology, Cytotechnology, Biology or related health disciplines who wish to enhance their lab expertise and knowledge in molecular-based methods. The coursework will provide solid didactic preparation for those qualified individuals seeking certification in molecular pathology by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or in molecular biology by the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel. It will also convey valuable background foundation and training for graduate or BS level students in biology/related fields who seek employment in basic science, industrial and pharmaceutical research labs.

The program consists of lecture-based instruction, student presentations, hands-on laboratory sessions and a practical experience in a molecular diagnostics /clinical laboratory. Classroom lectures and lab sessions are offered in the evening to accommodate schedules of working professionals.  For the certificate, students must complete at least 12 credit hours of the molecular diagnostics courses described below with a 2.5 grade point average.


 MLRS 500  Principles of Molecular Pathology and Clinical Diagnostics  3.0 credits
 MLRS 501  Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory  3.0 credits
 MLRS 600  Advanced Clinical Applications of Molecular Diagnostics  3.0 credits

 MLRS 601

 Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory

 3.0 credits

 MLRS 650

 Clinical Internship in Molecular Diagnostics

 3.0 credits

Course Descriptions

MLRS 500 Principles of Molecular Pathology and Clinical Diagnostics. Lecture 3 hrs; 3 credits. Prerequisite: BIOL 250, 251; CHEM 311, 312, or permission of instructor. Basic concepts of molecular pathology & clinical diagnostics including nucleic acids, chromosomes, DNA replication, transcription, proteins, mutations & chromosome changes that underlie inherited & acquired/infectious disease, inheritance patterns & genetics as applied to oncology, cardiac disease & organ transplants. Covers emerging molecular/cytologic/histologic methods (amplification, hybridization & microarrays) to detect disease markers, monitor therapy & assess identity; pharmacogenomics & legal/ethical issues of genetic testing

MLRS 501 Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. Lecture 1 hr, Lab 4 hrs; 3 credits. Co-requisite: MLRS 500 or permission of instructor. Course includes hands-on experience with or discussions of diagnostic instrumentation and assays using nucleic acid and protein extraction, gel electrophoresis, hybridization techniques, PCR and other amplification methods, DNA sequencing, autoradiography, flow cytometry, microarrays and proteomics-based methods.

MLRS 600 Advanced Clinical Applications of Molecular Diagnostics. Lecture 3 hrs; 3 credits. Prerequisite: MLRS 500, 501 or permission of instructor. Course will cover 1) new applications of standard molecular diagnostic techniques and 2) cutting edge technologies, instrumentation and technical advances, both as applied to clinical case studies. Emphasis will be on pharmacogenomics and disease processes, including inherited conditions, cancer, hematopathology, infectious diseases, mental retardation and developmental delay. Innovative technologies covered include comparative genomic hybridization, pyrosequencing and bead-based assays.

MLRS 601 Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. Lecture 1 hr, Lab 4 hrs; 3 credits. Prerequisite: MLRS 500, 501 or permission of instructor. Emphasis of this course will be on primer design for PCR, advanced real time PCR, cycle sequencing, capillary electrophoresis (CE) as applied to DNA sequencing, analysis of SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), microsatellite instability, single strand conformational polymorphism (CE-SSCP) and other conditions.

MLRS 650 Clinical Internship in Molecular Diagnostics. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MLRS 500, 501, 600 and 601. An optional three-week supervised rotation in a hospital-based or clinical molecular diagnostics laboratory.

Further information on the Molecular Diagnostics courses can be obtained by contacting:

Patricia Hentosh, Sc.D. or Dennis Peffley, Ph.D.
Molecular Diagnostics Program
School of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences
Old Dominion University
Room 2118 Health Sciences Building
Norfolk, VA 23529
Office Phone : (757) 683-3611
Email: phentosh@odu.edu