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Biochemistry & Molecular Biology - Course Descriptions

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Graduate Programs
Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Course Descriptions
Molecular Modeling Facility

BIOC 1010, 1020 General Biochemistry

(8 credits)


        BIOC 1010 Part I (Fall)


Dr. Horowitz and Staff

        BIOC 1020 Part II (Spring)


Dr. Horowitz and Staff

(Previously offered as 230A.4 and 230B.4)

This course is designed to present a thorough background of structural biochemistry, molecular biology and metabolism. The first semester provides the underpinning of quantitative biochemistry, i.e., stoichiometry, acids, bases, thermodynamics and kinetics. This is followed by a consideration of the structure and properties of amino acids and proteins. Fundamentals of catalysis and enzyme properties and mechanisms follow the development of protein structure.

Molecular biology is developed via consideration of the structure, function and synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins. Aspects of information transfer and its control are discussed in addition to the topics of regulation of gene expression and biotechnology. Finally, the structure and properties of carbohydrates and lipids, including glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans are presented.

The second semester focuses largely on metabolism. The subject is introduced by a discussion of the principles governing metabolism including bioenergetics, compartmentalization, and the operation and control of pathways. Major metabolic pathways of carbohydrate metabolism are discussed. This is followed by a consideration of oxidative metabolism and lipid metabolism (i.e., triglycerides, phospholipids and sterols). This is followed by signal transduction, membrane biochemistry and biochemistry of hormones. Then, the metabolism of amino acids, porphyrins and nucleotides are developed with considerable discussion of inborn errors of metabolism. The course concludes with a discussion of nutritional biochemistry and integration of pathways.

Normally, Part I is a prerequisite for Part II. The order of a studentís enrollment may be reversed with the approval of the instructor if the student has received adequate training in physical chemistry and molecular biology. Lectures and conferences: 4 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 1250 Biochemistry of Gene Expression

(4 credits)

Drs. Wu and M. Lee

(Previously offered as 246.4)

In vitro and in vivo aspects of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis are covered in depth by instructors actively doing research in each of these areas. Special emphasis is placed on methods and techniques used to address key questions in the macromolecular processes of DNA replication and repair, RNA transcription and processing, protein synthesis, and post-translational modifications. Students are introduced to principles and applications of molecular techniques and new discoveries in the molecular biology of eukaryotes. Students are provided with a comprehensive reading list. Lectures: 4 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 1350 Biophysical Chemistry

(3 credits)

Dr. Tse-Dinh

(Previously offered as 235.3)

This course gives a thorough description of molecular properties and processes such as diffusion, viscosity, sedimentation and electrophoresis. The application of these properties and processes to the determination of the size and shape of macromolecules is stressed. Spectroscopic methods, such as ultraviolet and visible absorption, fluorescence, circular dichroism, optical rotatory dispersion, nuclear magnetic resonance, as well as X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy are discussed and their applications to the study of proteins and nucleic acids are emphasized. Prerequisite: undergraduate course in physical chemistry. Lectures: 3 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 2010 Advanced Biochemistry

(3 credits)

Dr. Sabban

(Previously offered as 261.3)

The first part of the course examines principles of regulatory mechanisms of various enzymes in metabolic pathways and in the nervous system. Selected examples of short- and long-term regulation will be presented. This is followed by the selected topic of peptides in the nervous system to demonstrate examples of transcriptional, translational and post-translational regulatory pathways. Students will read and discuss recent papers on these topics. Lectures: 3 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 2320 Nutritional Biochemistry

(3 credits)

Dr. Horowitz and staff

(Previously offered as 232.2)

The biochemical basis for mammalian nutritional requirements will be surveyed. Diets will be analyzed for nutritional adequacy and the consequences of nutritional deficiencies will be elaborated. The relationship between energy expenditure, energy uptake, and weight loss or gain will be studied. Students will read original literature in nutrition research. Recent studies on gene expression and nutrients, free-radicals, leptins and integration of metabolism will be discussed. Prerequisite: BIOC 1010 and 1020 or BIOC 1250 or consent of instructor. Lectures: 3 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 2630 Cell Signaling

(2 credits)

Drs. Olson and Lerea

(Previously offered as 263.2)

An advanced topic course that covers major signaling components such as phospholipases, GTP binding proteins, protein kinases, and protein phosphatases. Format includes lectures by the instructors and presentations of original literature by the students. Prerequisite: BIOC 1010 or CELL 1360. Lectures: 2 hrs/wk. Letter-graded. Enrollment is limited.

BIOC 2660 Steroid Hormones

(2 credits)

Dr. Weinstein and staff

The course covers all aspects of steroid hormones their biosynthesis from cholesterol and the mechanisms by which they alter the metabolism of target cells. The ďclassicalĒ intracellular receptors as well as newly described mechanisms are presented. The sex steroids, corticosteroids, Vitamin D and phytosteroids are all covered in detail. Lectures: 2 hrs/wk. Letter graded.

BIOC 2690 Protein Structure and Function (3 credits) Dr. Tse-Dinh and Staff

(Previously offered as 269.3)

An introduction to the foundations of experimental approaches to current models of protein structure. Topics include protein folding, protein-protein interaction, protein engineering and structure-function relationships. Lectures: 3 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 2720 DNA-Protein Interactions

(2 credits)

Drs. Tse-Dinh and M. Lee

(Previously offered as 272.2)

Topics include structure of DNA binding motifs, sequence-specific recognition and mechanisms of nucleases, topoisomerases, recombinases, and other DNA-modifying enzymes. Lectures: 2 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.

BIOC 8020 Departmental Seminar and Journal Club

(1 credit)

Dr. Olson

(Previously offered as 291.1)

Students will present research results from current literature in a seminar format. Seminar: 1 hr/wk. Pass/Fail. May be taken multiple times, but only a limited number of credits may be applied towards degree requirements.

BIOC 8100 Current Topics in Molecular Biology

(1 credit)

Dr. Wu and Staff

(Previously offered as 247.1)

Students and staff present papers on topics in molecular biology. Seminar: 1 hr/wk. Pass/Fail.

BIOC 8110 Current Topics

(2 credits)

Drs. Horowitz and Wu

(Previously offered as 290.2)

Students present papers taken from the recent scientific literature. Seminar: 2 hrs/wk. Pass/Fail. Open to Masterís students only.

BIOC 9110 Advanced Biochemical Techniques

(3 credits)

Dr. Sabban and Staff

(Previously offered as 255.1-9)

Laboratory rotations for Ph.D. students in individual faculty laboratories. Three rotations are required (three credits per rotation). These rotations are meant to introduce the incoming graduate student to laboratory research by immediate participation in ongoing faculty research. Through this work, students will learn basic laboratory techniques but, just as important, will be introduced to the process of bench science and data analysis. The evaluation of the studentís progress will be based on his/her a) ability to execute bench experiments, b) ability to critically evaluate the experimental results, c) ability for problem solving, and d) acquisition of a basic knowledge of the literature that provides a background context for the project. Research. Hours to be assigned. Pass/Fail. May be taken three times. Open to Ph.D. students only.

BIOC 9750 Masterís Literature Review

(1 credit)

Dr. Sabban

(Previously offered as 297.1)

The student conducts a thorough library search and writes a scholarly report on an advanced topic in biochemistry or molecular biology under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Required for Plan ďAĒ Masterís degree. Independent study. Pass/Fail.

BIOC 9800 Masterís Thesis Research

(1-5 credits)

Dr. Sabban

(Previously offered as 298.1-5)

Original research in the laboratory of a faculty sponsor is undertaken towards fulfillment of Plan ďBĒ Masterís degree requirements in biochemistry and molecular biology. May be taken multiple times for 1-5 credits per term, but only 5 credits may be counted towards program requirements. Thesis Research. Hours to be arranged. Pass/Fail.

BIOC 9850 Masterís Thesis

(1 credit)

Dr. Sabban

(Previously offered as 295.1)

The candidate writes a scholarly thesis describing his/her original laboratory research in biochemistry or molecular biology. The thesis must be approved by a faculty committee and defended by the student. Required for Plan ďBĒ Masterís degree. Independent study. Pass/Fail.

BIOC 9900 Doctoral Dissertation Research

Dr. Sabban


(Previously offered as 299.1-15)

Dissertation research conducted by candidates for the Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. May be taken multiple times for a total of 15 credits. Thesis Research. Hours to be arranged. Pass/Fail.

BMS 3010 Molecular Neurobiology

(2 credits)

Drs. Ross, Leonard and Sabban

(Previously offered as 920.2)

Discussion of the structure and function of important molecules in the nervous system. The first part of the course concerns itself with molecules responsible for ion transport, such as the sodium channel and transmitter receptor channel, utilizing results from path-clamping and gene cloning. The second part covers intercellular communication, such as peptides, NGF and cellular recognition molecules. Prerequisite: PHYS 1010 and 1020 or BMS 1410. Lectures: 2 hrs/wk. Letter-graded.


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