The combination of a Lasallian liberal arts education coupled with an innovative, research-based biology curriculum, challenges students to explore a deeper meaning of the world around them, and prepares them for medical school, graduate work and careers in the life sciences.
Blaze Your Own Path
Science is more than memorizing facts. It is about standing at the edge of knowledge and peering into the unknown. Science is about discovery.
We reimagined undergraduate life science education employing an evidence-based approach. Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) are interwoven throughout our curricula. These courses provide students with the opportunity to engage in authentic, discovery-based scientific research, and challenge students to apply foundational knowledge to address research questions. This CURE-based curriculum has been demonstrated to improve student learning and graduation rates compared to traditional teaching models in many studies of STEM learning.
CURE courses include:
Antibiotic Discovery: freshmen students isolate and characterize potentially novel antibiotics
Phage Hunting I & II: students isolate novel viruses and characterize viral genomes
Molecular Biology: students investigate molecular and genetic mechanisms regulating the formation of adipocytes (fat-storing cells)
Capstone Research: students select a research area and conduct faculty-mentored research across many disciplines including:
Indicates Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience
Indicates Traditional Major Course
Molecules & Cells: Phage Hunting I
Genomics: Phage Hunting II
Bio Electives x4
Grant Writing Practicum
Additional Coursework in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Calculus
The Certified Quality Science Professional (CQSP) Certificate Program provides an accelerated pathway into the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology industries, by offering a certificate program developed by industry and government leaders, and taught by industry subject matter experts.
Students enjoy a wide range of interesting and unique courses, some including:
Small World Initiative (SWI)
The Biology department partners with the Small World Initiative (SWI), a research consortium developed at Yale University to provide freshmen Biology majors with an authentic research opportunity that addresses a pressing, global health challenge – the rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Through a series of student-driven experiments, students collect soil samples, isolate diverse bacteria, test for antibiotic production against critically relevant micro-organisms, and characterize those that exhibit antibiotic activity. SWI’s approach provides a laboratory platform to crowdsource antibiotic discovery and advances promising candidates into the drug development pipeline.
Biology partners with SEA-PHAGES, to provide an undergraduate research experience funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Phages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria and have been a powerful tool for learning about microbiology. They have also been used as a therapy against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Over the course of two semesters, students isolate, characterize, and identify phages found in soil. Students then use bioinformatics tools to find genes hidden within the DNA of these viruses. Viruses that students discover are housed in a national repository, and genomes that are annotated are published on a national database, with students listed as authors. The SEA-PHAGES program gives students the opportunity to do real research that might one day provide an additional tool in managing infectious disease.
Life Science Innovation
Created in partnership with the Wistar Institute, Life Science Innovation provides students with hands-on science/technology commercialization projects. Cross-listed by the Biology, ISBT and Management & Leaderships programs, interdisciplinary teams of students select technologies from a curated patent portfolio of Wistar inventions. Teams interact with inventor scientists at Wistar to familiarize themselves with the underlying science/technology, as well as with external partners such as venture capitalists, intellectual property lawyers, and biotechnology entrepreneurs—to identify unmet needs the science/technology addresses, and define key commercialization issues such as IP, market opportunity, competition, regulatory pathways, and potential customers. At the end of the semester, teams compete in a “shark-tank” competition and pitch a panel of life science investors.
Capstone & Independent Research
This course allows ALL students to conduct faculty-mentored research across many disciplines. A sample of current student projects:
Neuroprotection against Seizure-Related Brain Damage
Ecological Stoichiometric and Microbial Community Responses to Urbanized Landscapes and Nutrient and Resource Use
Molecular Mechanisms Influencing the Relationship Between Bacteria and Bacteriophages
DNA Fingerprinting of herbal samples and trees of the Arboretum on the La Salle University Campus
Regulation of Cytoskeletal Dynamics in Tumor Progression and Host-Pathogen Interactions
The biology department is located in Holroyd Hall, home of the Hugh and Nancy Devlin Center for Science and Technology. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art labs, research spaces and resources such as:
The Peter M. DiBattiste, M.D., ’78 Collaborative Research (CORE) laboratory concentrates student-faculty research activity in a central location, fostering interaction and collaboration among students and faculty researchers. The CORE lab provides students with access to cutting-edge technologies, such as Illumina Next-Generation DNA Sequencing, and suports our hands-on, Lasallian student scientist training model. Each semester, faculty and 40+ students work in the CORE lab across a range of disciplines including:
PCR & Real Time PCR
Illumina iSeq DNA Sequencer
Scanning Electronic Microscope
High Performance Liquid Chromatograph
Tissue Culture Suite
Roof-top Green House
La Salle students have access to more than 120 clubs and organizations including:
Biology club – La Salle University’s student-driven Biology Club organizes a range of activities including the Life Science Seminar Series, peer-mentoring, foosball tournaments, volunteer opportunities, pet adoptions, and much more.
Student Association for STEM and Health Sciences – Students of La Salle from different backgrounds, diverse majors come together to attend conferences, engage in stimulating conversations at panel discussions, serve the community and primarily, mentor and support one another.
Enactus – Enactus is a global nonprofit and community of student, academic, and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives. Members are dedicated to creating a better world while developing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and social innovators.
Alpha Epsilon Delta chapter -is the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of excellence in preprofessional health scholarship
Minors (six courses)
Integrated Science, Business & Technology – The Integrated Science, Business, and Technology (ISBT) program is a unique, interdisciplinary major that explores science and technology through the lens of systems, design, innovation, and entrepreneurial practices. Students learn to collaborate and solve difficult problems by connecting expertise across multiple disciplines.
Translational Science – Translational Science is an emergent, interdisciplinary field focused on translating basic science discoveries into diagnostics, therapeutics, and medical devices to address unmet healthcare needs. This bench-to-bedside approach requires critical thinking skills to see opportunities for innovation and to navigate complex biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry landscapes.
Concentrations (four courses)
BioDesign – an emerging, integrated discipline drawing on design thinking, biology, engineering, and entrepreneurship to develop products and technologies that address unmet healthcare needs.
Bioinformatics – an interdisciplinary field that uses software tools to acquire and analyze large complex biological data sets including whole genome DNA data.
Bioethics – an examination of ethical issues that emerge from advances in biology that apply to research and medical practice
Microbiology – the study of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, archaea, fungi and protozoa – that covers biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, ecology, evolution and clinical pathology.
Name: Julia Sproch Major: Biology Minor: Nutrition Graduation Year: 2018 Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa. Sports/Clubs/Organizations: Honors Program, Epsilon Sigma Alpha Service Organization (primary philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Hospital), La Salle Explorer’s Advocating Nutrition- (nutrition club), executive board, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Committee, La Salle Field Hockey, and Yellow Ribbon Club
What helped you decide on majoring in Biology?
I was always interested in science growing up. I remember writing a letter to NASA, having a science computer game, and asking my parents for experiments kits for my birthday. That being said, I didn’t know I wanted to major in biology until high school, when I read an article about researchers creating artificial organs. I just thought it was really cool!
What was your favorite class in or out of the program?
As an honors student, I’ve had the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes, most of which stimulate outside-the-box thinking. One of my favorites was Love in Asian Religion, Literature, and Film… I have also greatly enjoyed almost all of my higher level biology classes. I especially loved microbiology (big surprise), as well as biochemistry and molecular biology.
What are you doing with your degree now?
After graduation I received a Postbaccalaurate Intramural Research Training Award and worked at the National Institute of Health for two years and now I am working on my PhD at NYU’s Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.
How do you think La Salle is helping to prepare you for the future beyond college?
The best thing La Salle has done to prepare me for the future is introduce me to many incredible people. From professors to security guards to my best friends and roommates, I can’t begin to explain how much the people here have enabled me to grow as a person.
Who has been the most influential member of the La Salle community on your life?
Dr. Gerry Ballough has been extremely supportive over the past four years. He believed in me and encouraged me as soon as I first came to La Salle as a scared, little freshman.
If you could have dinner with any three people at La Salle, who would they be?
I would have dinner with Brother Mike McGinniss (Director of the Honors Program), because he will go out of his way to help anyone and I find that very admirable. I would also include Dr. Ballough because he is so interesting and has so much knowledge. Finally, I would invite President Hanycz because she is a role model to everyone at La Salle.