Department of Basic Sciences

Basic Sciences works collaboratively across programs and departments to educate students in the human sciences, including gross anatomy, physiology, and functional neurosciences.

The department also offers undergraduate pre-requisite courses in anatomy and physiology that are required for admission to SMU and other health sciences institutions. We don't offer a degree.

To register for one of our courses, you must be admitted to an SMU program or enrolled as non-degree seeking. We operate on a continuous enrollment basis and classes are offered when the minimum enrollment is met.

The Basic Sciences Department does not offer degrees. To enroll in courses, students must be admitted to an SMU degree program or be a non-degree seeking student taking courses for credit. Enrollment continues throughout the year until the course is full or the term begins. Courses are offered when minimal enrollment is met.

Undergraduate pre-requisite Basic Sciences courses
Anatomy (BSCI 015) $646/unit
Anatomy (BSCI 016) $646/unit
Pathophysiology (NRSG 119) $646/unit
Pharmacology (NRSG 118) $646/unit
Physiology (BSCI 025) $646/unit
Physiology Lab (BSCI 026) $646/unit

Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and Physiology are offered through our Oakland campus. The courses are in person only. All on-campus meetings are mandatory. Lab and lecture must both be taken together. Although there are no pre-requisites for these classes, prior coursework in Biology and Chemistry will be helpful. Students may take both classes simultaneously; however, if you plan to take them in sequence, we recommend taking Anatomy first followed by Physiology.

Pharmacology and Pathophysiology
Pharmacology and Pathophysiology are offered online through the School of Nursing. Please note that both anatomy and physiology are required prerequisites for pharmacology and pathophysiology. However, we do not require official/unofficial transcripts; you are certifying completion by submitting an application to pharmacology/pathophysiology. 

Because Basic Sciences courses are taken outside of a degree-granting program, financial aid is not available. Some private lenders will let you borrow for these courses. Please speak to a financial aid counselor about this possibility.

The SMU Biosafety Committee is responsible for monitoring and ensuring the safe operation of the university teaching and research laboratories. The Committee meets regularly to review current conditions and establish the working protocols in accordance with established standards. All laboratory coursework and special research projects are pre-approved by the Committee and regularly reviewed when work is ongoing.

Below are links to several Biosafety documents that are an essential reference for all faculty and students working in a laboratory. Included is the SMU Biosafety Manual and Biological Use Authorization (BUA). The BUA must be completed by any Principal Investigator (PI) who intends to either teach a laboratory course or conduct a research project using biological materials. Additional documents include those used to renew or extend existing approved projects and Incident Report.

  1. SMU Biosafety Manual
  2. Biological Use Authorization (BUA) (For initial project approvals)
  3. Biological Use Authorization (BUA) Continuing Review (For annual ongoing project review)
  4. Biological Use Authorization (BUA) Amendment (Use for changes to an approved BUA)
  5. Student Policy Agreement (All BSL-2 workers must complete this.)
  6. Laboratory Incident Report (Use for any adverse event or injury.)
  7. Laboratory Inspection Checklist, BSL-2 (Use for compliance audit.)
  8. Laboratory Report Form (Use for any Biosafety issues or suggestions)

The Brain Awareness program at Samuel Merritt University has been developed by Barb Puder, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Basic Sciences, to increase public awareness about the brain and brain function in order to promote brain health and safety.

The Brain Awareness program is a free educational service designed for children in grades K-12 and adults. Samuel Merritt University students participate in the Brain Awareness programs by designing presentations and hands-on activities to make the program educational, age-appropriate, fun, and interactive. Additionally, the Brain Awareness program enhances K-12 science curricula to assist schools in fulfilling national and state science standards.

Contact Dr. Puder to request The Brain Awareness program come to your Bay Area school. Students will learn how the brain works in a free, hands-on, age-appropriate workshop. A typical program includes a 20-30 minute introduction about the brain and nervous system that may include:

  • Names of particular brain areas and how they work
  • Brain health and safety
  • Tips to keep your brain active
  • Drug and alcohol affects on the brain

Video: 99 Minutes of Neuroscience with Dr. Barb Puder

For more information about the Brain Awareness program, or to schedule a Brain Awareness program, please contact:

Barb Puder, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Brain Awareness Coordinator
(510) 879-9286

The faculty in the Department of Basic Sciences offers several educational workshops and outreach programs. We cater to a wide range of participants including, school-aged children, young adults, and professionals seeking work-related knowledge, skills development or continuing education credits. These programs can be held in the Multi-use Laboratory, in a classroom, or, at your institution. For example, please visit the Brain Awareness Program. [see link above]

We also have a traditional Human Gross Anatomy Laboratory. If you wish to use the Human Gross Anatomy Laboratory, please note the following:

* It is available only from January through August.

* Participants must be over 14 years of age.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs or developing a program for your group, please complete the following request form. We will respond to all requests with regards to feasibility and cost. Scholarships are available for those in need.

SMU Community Outreach Request Form

For more information, visit the UGPR page.