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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


4.9 rating, based on 124 Class Central 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...
  • One of the best classes in Biology that I have taken since high school! This is the first Biology class I took on a MOOC on the edX platform from MIT. I took this first in 2013 when it first came out on edX. Never thought, I would find Biology so...
  • Alison Newell
    I found this course to be difficult but know it was because my level of biology and chemistry study ended in grade 10 over 20 years ago. I took the course with the idea that, at the very least, I would learn some information that could help me be successful...
  • Wandalen

    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
    This is the first course I have audited. I took it without certification test, largely out of curiosity to educate myself to better understand CRISPR technology. I am a recently retired physician, MD 1973. I learned Kreb's Cycle as a black box series...
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    Tamim M
    If you have questions about the origin of life you will definitely find the answers. More importantly you will find out how we came to know these facts. Prof.Lander is a Musician orchestrating a piece of high quality music in the class. I wish to meet...
  • 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...
  • 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
    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...
  • Anonymous
    Unlike most people who took this course, I am only about to attend college in a field relating to biology. So with that in mind, as well as the fact that I have no confidence in my skills in this subject, I decided to take Professor Lander's course in...
  • 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...
  • 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....
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic course! I took college biology before but still found this course challenging- there are new ideas and concepts being introduced and they are very useful as bridging information for me taking university-level biology module. There are several topics where I found totally confusing before but the way Prof Lander present makes them a lot easier to understand. I like how Prof Lander does not directly jump into the theory and content, but instead lead and guide our thought from a generic background to the core concept. All hail to Prof Lander!
  • Anonymous
    This course was AMAZING!! I'm in 8th grade and I've done some complicated biochemistry in the past. This course was hands down the best class I've ever taken in my entire life. It was interesting, intriguing, modern, and fun. Professor Lander was one...
  • 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
    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
    Having received a degree from MIT (in 1979!) I had specific expectations for the course - both the lectures and the problem sets. I am gratified to report that both exceeded my expectations. Dr. Lander is an excellent teacher, engaging the class, explaining...
  • Anonymous
    I am a 73 year old retired senior executive from a Fortune 100 company- an engineer by training. My first year biology was too simple. So I took this course to learn about the progress we have made.

    What an amazing course! Dr Lander is probably the best teacher in my decades of learning. He knowledgeable, entertaining, good at simplifying the complex.

    Kudos to MIT for using technology to make this knowledge accessible to us.

    Wish I could meet Dr Lander in person to tell him how much I learned from him.

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