Biological Chemistry Course Descriptions

Required Courses

Core Curriculum – Genes
Fall 1st half
2.0 credit hours
Molecular genetics of model organisms; DNA replication, repair, and recombination; transcription; RNA catalysis, processing, and interference; translation; protein turnover; developmental biology; and genomics.

Core Curriculum – Proteins
Fall 1st half
2.0 credit hours
The energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; and analysis by spectroscopic methods.

Core Curriculum – Cells
Fall 2nd half
2.0 credit hours
Cell structure; membrane biology; intracellular membrane and protein trafficking; energy conversion; signal transduction and second messengers; cytoskeleton; cell cycle; and introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

Physical Biochemistry I 
Fall 2nd half
2.0 credit hours

Protein analysis; mass spectrometry; equilibria; specificity, cooperativity, and regulation of macromolecular interactions; sedimentation velocity and equilibrium analysis; and related topics. These principles will be illustrated by the study of well-characterized examples from the literature. The course emphasizes quantitative analysis and reading and discussion of the primary literature.

Physical Biochemistry II 
Spring 1st half
1.5 credit hours
Enzyme mechanism and enzyme kinetic analysis. Topics include basic Michaelis-Menten kinetics, multisubstrate reactions and inhibitor studies ranging from the methods to analyze simple competitive inhibitors to suicide or tight-binding inhibitors. These principles will be illustrated for a series of classic well-characterized enzyme reactions. The course emphasizes quantitative analysis through a series of problem sets and through reading and discussion of the primary literature.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics I
Fall full semester
1.0 credit hour

Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions: goals of education in RCR; professionalism; collaboration; teambuilding and professional behaviors; everyday practice of ethical science; mentorship; data management and reproducibility; animal research; genetics; and human research.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics II
Spring full semester
1.0  credit hour
Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions: codes of ethics and misconduct; building inter-professional teams; conflict of interest; sexual boundaries and professional behavior; applications of genetic testing; technology transfer and intellectual property; plagiarism, authorship, and citation; peer review; image and data manipulation.

Electives

See degree plan (page 2) for specific elective requirements.

Signal Transduction I
Spring 1st half
1.5 credit hours
This course offers an in-depth study of the interactions of neurotransmitter and polypeptide hormones with receptors and their subsequent regulation of cellular events. Topics emphasize basic physicochemical concepts of ligand interactions with biological systems and mechanisms of common signaling pathways, including classical second messengers, G protein dependent mechanisms and regulation via protein phosphorylation.

Quantitative approaches and current controversies are stressed where appropriate. Lectures are supported by discussion of classic and current research articles and presentations by students.

Signal Transduction II
Spring 2nd half
1.5 credit hours
The second part of this series integrates previous themes into various endocrine pathways, examines regulation at the nuclear level, and broadens topics to such diverse topics as apoptosis, circadian rhythms, and signaling network analysis. Quantitative approaches and current controversies are stressed where appropriate. Lectures are supported by discussion of classic and current research articles. Each student is expected to submit an original research proposal, present and defend the proposal orally, and evaluate the proposals of other students.

Molecular Basis of Metabolic Regulation
Spring 2nd half
1.5 credit hours
The complexity of animals, their tissues, and even individual cells requires multilevel systems for regulation of metabolism. This course encompasses important cellular functions, such as the transport of molecules into cells, the use of fuels for energy generation and energy storage, and integration of metabolic pathways. Discussion includes new information about the impact of gene expression and isozyme diversity on the control of metabolic flux, hormonal control of metabolism and consideration of more acute control mechanisms operating at the level of allosteric and covalent modification of enzymes.

There is a strong emphasis on presentation of these concepts in the context of genetically programmed metabolic disorders, and the material covered in this course provides tools to explore the phenotypes of genetically modified animals and to discern the basis of human metabolic disease.

Mechanisms of Drug Action
Spring full semester
3.0 credit hours
The course is organized around weekly one-hour lectures and two-hour discussions. The first part of the course examines the general principles of pharmacology: the entry, distribution, and elimination of drugs; time course of drug action; the molecular basis of pharmacological selectivity and efficacy; adaptation, tolerance, and addiction to drugs; and pharmacogenetics. These sessions are followed by discussions of the molecular bases of antibiotic chemotherapy and autonomic pharmacology. During the final weeks of the course, a range of topics is explored, using examples from contemporary literature.

Topics include peptides and proteins as drugs, rational drug design, the use of RNA and DNA as drugs, gene therapy, prodrugs, immunotoxins, anticancer chemotherapy, and strategies of selective drug delivery.