cLast updated: August 21, 2008 06:05 PM
Bio C2005/F2401


Online Resources

Important note: many students say they never use the print textbooks and that buying them is a waste of money. If you like to study from a print book, the texts are worth it. However, if you don't feel the need for a text, but just buy one 'because you are supposed to,' forget it. Most of what you need is in the online notes, and any back up material you want can be found online at one of the following sites, or is on reserve in the bio library.

PubMed Bookshelf

Many of the books listed below, and many other useful texts, are available on line through PubMed.  Usually the next-to-latest edition of the text is available on line as part of the PubMed bookshelf. You can use the PubMed bookshelf to do a search for a particular topic (in all the books), or you can go to a particular book, see its table of contents, and search for your topic in that book only. To reach PubMed, go to To reach the bookshelf, click on 'books' on the right of the black bar at the top of the page. On the bookshelf home, you can scroll down to look at particular books, or just insert a search term in the box at the top of the page. (To look at the table of contents of a book, click on the book title or the icon of the book, not on the underlined link to the publisher. Once you have found a suitable book, you can view the table of contents, but you have to enter a search term to find the right section in that book. You can't just click on the table of contents.) For additional instructions on how to use the PubMed books click on 'using the books' on the  left menu. If you need additional help using PubMed, ask one of the instructors or the bio librarian. 

Kimball's Biology Pages

This is essentially an online biology book created by a retired textbook author. It covers the same material as Purves at more or less the same level, and is constantly updated. It is at This online book is set up in a different way than most conventional textbooks. You have to search to find what you want. You can type your topic in the search box, or get an alphabetical listing of topics (the A to Z index), or get a list of topics grouped by subject (the table of contents). Instructions for use are on the web site. It may take some practice to learn how to use this text efficiently, but it can be very helpful. And it's free. However, if you use this site often in lieu of a printed textbook, the author would appreciate a donation to help maintain the site.

MIT Biology OpenCourseWare

This site contains links to course materials for many biology courses taught at MIT. It includes audio and video recordings, problems, etc., for each course.  Biology C2005 is descended evolutionarily (so to speak) from their core biology course, called 'introductory biology.' Lectures and problems from several years of this course are included on the web site. 

The list of available biology courses is at: Scroll down for the list of courses, and click on the appropriate one. Each course has links to supporting materials, including audio and video recordings and problems. Click on 'study materials,' 'recitations' and/or 'assignments' for problems and their solutions.

OnLine Biology Book by Farabee

This book was developed by the author from his notes after many years of teaching introductory biology. It is on line at This online book resembles our class notes or an ordinary text; it is not a hypertext like Kimball. You may find it easier to use than Kimball, although this text seems to be on the simple side.

OnLine Biochemistry Book by Garrett & Grisham

This is the second edition of a standard biochemistry text. (The print version has a third edition.) There are other online biochem texts, but most are developed from notes and are not as professionally produced. This text is equivalent to the Stryer text on Pubmed, but the authors have chosen to put it on the U. of Virginia site instead of on Pubmed. To quote from a recent review, 'this is a wonderful resource providing outstanding information and illustration of biochemical principles.'

Online Chemistry tutorials for biologists This has many links to other useful sites. It does not seem quite as good as the print books listed below 'to bolster a weak chemical background.' There are several tutorials on this site on various aspects of biology and biochemistry.

(The ones with a * are available online from PubMed.)

To bolster a weak chemical background:

Baker and Allen, Matter, Energy and Life, any edition, Addison-Wesley. Very simple and to the point. Well worth it if your chemistry is rusty. (This book is no longer in print but should be in the library.)

Chapman, Basic Chemistry for Biology, 2nd ed. 1999. This book and the one by Sackheim are self-instructional texts that you are expected to work through, not just read.

Fisher and Arnold, Instant Notes in Chemistry for Biologists, any edition. See a review.

Fry & Page, CatchUp Chemistry for the life and medical sciences. 2005. Covers the same ground as the previous book. See review 1 or review 2.

Theil, Principles of Chemistry in Biology, A Teaching Companion, ACS 1998. This book is more detailed than the others, and is really intended for teachers, not students. It emphasizes the connections between chemistry and biology.

Sackheim, An Introduction to Chemistry for Biology Students, any edition. 8th ed. is 2005

Also see the biochemistry part of White & Mischke, A Problems Approach to Introductory Biology, ASM Press, 2006, or one of the online tutorials listed above.

For more problems

White & Mischke, A Problems Approach to Introductory Biology, ASM Press, 2006. Includes problems on Genetics, Biochemistry, & Molecular Biology.

See also the MIT biology site listed above, or the books by Wood et al or Hood et al listed below. 

See also the more complex problems in Becker, and the problems for discussion at the end of the chapters in Purves.

Both Alberts and Lodish (see below) have problem books that parallel the text.

To supplement the biochemistry in the basic texts:

Lehninger, Bioenergetics, any edition, Benjamin. All about ATP, nice and simple.

*Stryer, Biochemistry, any ed., W.H. Freeman & Co. A good general biochemistry text that includes problems and answers. The 5th edition, by Berg, Tymoczko & Stryer is available on line.

Lehninger's Biochemistry or Principles of Biochemistry. These books are similar to Stryer, but a little more complex.

Wood, Wilson, Benbow and Hood, Biochemistry: A Problems Approach, Benjamin, any edition. Lots of problems and their answers.

See also the online Garret & Grisham text listed above.

To supplement the genetics in the basic texts:

*Griffiths, Miller, Suzuki, Lewontin & Gelbart, An Introduction to Genetic Analysis, any ed., Freeman. (Order of authors is different in different editions.) A genetics text with thorough explanations and a problem-solving emphasis, that follows a traditional historical approach. Older editions are good but lack sections on molecular genetics. The 7th edition is available on line.

*Griffiths, Gelbart, Lewontin & Miller, Modern Genetic Analysis -- Integrating Genes & Genomes, any ed. A genetics text that emphases problem-solving as in the previous book, but has a more "modern" or integrated approach that combines classical and molecular genetics from the start. The first edition is available on line.

Klug and Cummings. Concepts of Genetics, MacMillan; or Essentials of Genetics, Prentice-Hall

Stansfield, Schaum's Outline of Theory and Problems of Genetics, any ed. McGraw Hill.  A good source of solved genetics problems.

There are many other good genetics books, such as those by Zubay, Rothwell, Ayala, Fincham, Hartl et al., Russell and Goodenough.

Additional Cell & Molecular Biology Books (these cover a lot of biochemistry too):

*Alberts et. al., Molecular Biology of the Cell,  Garland. More detailed than necessary but covers a lot of the topics in the course in manageable chunks. Highly recommended by former students. The 4th ed. of Alberts (2002) is available on line.

*Cooper, The Cell -- A Molecular Approach, any ed. The 2nd ed. is online at Pubmed. The web site companion to the current 4th ed., with animations, videos, etc. is at This book is about the same level as Becker.

*Lodish et al., Molecular Cell Biology, Scientific American Books, any edition. Similar to Alberts et al. The 4th ed. of Lodish (2000) is available on line.

There are other good molecular biology texts by Clark, by Freifelder, by Malacinski, and by Weaver.

Hood, Wilson and Wood, Molecular Biology of Eucaryotic Cells: A problems Approach, Benjamin, 1975. Quite old, but has lots of nice problems and their answers.

Watson, J.D., et al. Molecular Biology of the Gene. any edition  Benjamin/Cummings.  Just what the title says. Has some good biochemistry sections too.


Scientific American and the science section of the Tues. N.Y. Times. Almost every issue has at least one article on recent developments in molecular biology. The current issue of Sci. Am is at  The archives are available through the CU libraries.

Heppner, Frank, Professor Farnsworth's Explanations in Biology, McGraw Hill. This is a very funny book that explains some of the more difficult concepts in biology and includes good advice on studying. There are several copies on reserve in the bio. library.

For the latest on the human genome, go to

For a collection of scientific cartoons by Stanley Harris, go to This is a commercial site, but you can look at the cartoons for free.