Macromolecular Structure and Analysis
The structure and properties of biological macromolecules will be presented.
Experimental and computational methods used to study macromolecular structure
including X-ray crystallography, magnetic resonance, spectroscopy, microscopy,
and mass spectrometry will also be covered.
Biochemical and Biophysical Principles
The physical and chemical principles underlying
biological processes are presented and discussed. Topics include thermodynamics,
chemical equilibrium, chemical and enzymatic kinetics, electrochemistry,
physical chemistry of solutions, and structure and properties of water.
Elementary concepts of statistical thermodynamics will be introduced as a way of
correlating macroscopic and microscopic properties.
Molecular Biology and Genomics
This course module covers the Molecular Biology and Genomics of both prokaryotes
(using E. coli as the model organism) and eukaryotes, with a focus on "model
organisms" including yeast, flies, worms, mice as well as humans. Both the
Molecular Biology (reductionist) perspective and the Genomics (systems biology)
perspective will be provided on each topic, and there will be heavy emphasis on
mechanism and regulation of fundamental processes in biological information
transfer DNA->RNA-> protein. This lecture module will cover genes and genomes,
transcription and RNA world, replication, chromosome structure and function and
Genetics covers fundamental principles of genetics,
focusing primarily on yeast, the fruit fly, and the mouse. Problem sets are an
integral learning tool in this course.
Cell Structure and Dynamics
The objective of this course is to provide the basics
of cell biology, including the structure, function and biogenesis of cellular
organelles. Also covered are essential concepts on the cytoskeleton, cell-cell
and cell-extracellular matrix interactions, cell motility, chaperones, and
Organic Mechanisms in Biology
This course deals with the chemical mechanisms of enzymes. It is intended to
illustrate how catalysis in biological systems can be understood using
principles derived from organic reaction mechanisms.
This course will cover the principles of membrane
transport, bioenergetics, metabolic pathways, cell cycle and cell death with
particular emphasis on regulatory mechanisms including receptor-mediated
signaling, small GTPases, lipid molecules, kinases and phosphatases.
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
This short course is a survey of quantitative methods in modern biology and the
computational concepts that are developing to analyze large data sets. Topics
range from a review of statistics to problems in sequence analysis to the
modeling of complex systems. The goal of the course is to familiarize students
with the concepts of computational biology rather than to achieve a deep
understanding of any one topic.
Topics in Biological Chemistry
First-year BC students meet with each of the BC faculty members, throughout the
year, to discuss current research articles of special interest or importance.
First Year Elective Courses
The core course modules are completed in the first three quarters of the
academic year (Sept. - Mar.). In the fourth quarter (Mar.-May), first-year
students take four short elective courses and begin to focus on a research area
During the first year, each student carries out
research in two or three different laboratories of their choosing. At the end of
the rotations, students select a laboratory in which to complete their thesis
This exam will be conducted by five faculty members, two from the student’s
department and three from other science departments. It is a two-part
process: the student will write a research proposal outside their thesis
area and then the committee will ask questions to probe the student's depth
and breadth of knowledge at an oral exam based on the research proposal and
first year course work.
Thesis Progress Meetings
After passing the oral exam, each student chooses a thesis committee
consisting of the advisor and three other faculty members. At the initial
meeting, the student presents a thesis proposal in the format of an NIH
Fellowship application. Subsequent meetings with the thesis committee are
convened at least once a year to review research progress and discuss plans
for the next year.
Professional Development and Ethical Conduct
Discussions will be led by the Biological Chemistry Department's faculty
members and will include the following topics: ethical conduct in classroom
and laboratory, the art and science of oral presentations, and scientific
writing and reviewing. Students are required to attend all three
After completion of the first and second year course
requirements and successful passing of the oral qualifying exam, students
continue their training with the following:
Students are required to take two elective courses in
their advanced years of training to broaden and deepen their knowledge base.
Electives that are offered cover a broad range of topics including cell growth
control, macromolecular structure and x-ray crystallography, developmental
biology, neuroscience, the biochemistry of membrane carriers, polarity in
mammalian cells, molecular mechanisms of signal transduction, membrane
biochemistry, immunology, virology and scientific writing. In addition to
expanding students' knowledge, these courses promote close interactions between
faculty and students.
Seminars and Journal Clubs
Students in the Graduate Program in Biological
Chemistry are required to attend the departmental journal club every Monday at
noon and the departmental seminars every Tuesday at noon. Students will be
required to present a scientific paper in the departmental journal club
beginning in their second year of graduate studies. Additional seminars will
take place all over the campus and are open to all students. Specialized journal
clubs and research interest goups are also available. Students are also expected
to attend weekly lab meetings.
PhD Dissertation and Thesis Seminar
Students continue with their research and usually in
year five or six, the student's thesis committee agrees that the student is
nearing completion of his/her research and will be ready to write a
dissertation. The student's research is typically published in one or more
scholarly papers published in a peer-reviewed journal, prior to or shortly after
the submission of the dissertation. The student's advisor and one other member
of the thesis committee must read and approve the dissertation. The student
presents a formal, public seminar describing his/her completed thesis research
to an audience composed of members of his/her department.