Graduate Studies : Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

The following is a list of specific Biochemistry and Molecular Biology course descriptions and the First Year Program in Biomedical Sciences.
Please see graduate program pages for elective options.

PIBS 700 – Journal Club/Seminar

All PIBS students are required to attend one journal club or seminar each week for the entire academic year.

PIBS 701 – Introduction to Biomedical Sciences

This course surveys fundamentals of molecular and cellular biology that underly all modern biomedical research. Lectures are organized into modules that cover Proteins and DNA, Gene Expression, Signaling and Membranes, Cells, and Development. A final module covers immunology, organ systems, and genetics. Experimental techniques are emphasized throughout, with the first week of the course devoted to a bootcamp on common biomedical methods.

PIBS 702 – Scientific Reasoning

This course teaches scientific reasoning by critical reading of primary research papers in a small-group setting. Multiple small groups are offered every week and students can choose from different topics related to lectures in the companion PIBS 701 course. Research papers are discussed in two 1-hour sessions each week.

PIBS 731 – Laboratory Research

Laboratory rotations familiarize students with a variety of modern techniques in biomedicine and potential mentors for their dissertation projects.

PIBS 780 – Research Ethics

The NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts stipulates that Institutions receiving support for National Research Service Award Training Grants are required to develop a program in the principles of scientific integrity. This program should be an integral part of the proposed training effort.

PIBS 782 – Professional Development: Skills for Success I

This workshop will teach students the basics on how to: manage your career, choose a rotation lab / mentor, read a scientific paper, write a lab report and present in the journal club and lab meetings.

PIBS 783 – Professional Development: Skills for Success II

This workshop will teach students the basics on how to: write a fellowship and scientific paper as well as the proper and ethical handling of research data.

PIBS 830 – Doctoral Dissertation

Required for all PhD candidates. First-year students generally take one credit of doctoral dissertation in their first summer semester then continue in program specific dissertation credit through graduation.

EPH 601 – Medical Biostatistics I

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of statistical thinking from a practical standpoint. The focus is primarily on understanding and interpreting statistics with a secondary focus on computation. Topics covered include experimental design, confidence, correct interpretations of results, and assumptions behind statistical methods. Hypothesis testing is also introduced, focusing on correct interpretation, design issues, and appropriate conditions for use.

BMB 701 – Journal Club

All registered BMB graduate students must participate in the Research Journal Club/Seminar. Junior students are required to critically review published paper(s) of their choice and describe in detail the findings described therein. Senior students are required to present their research finding in an open forum.

BMB 709 – Advanced Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

This course is offered every fall. This course brings the student to the forefront of research in biochemistry, molecular biology, and molecular genetics. The course covers several fundamental and advanced topics in biochemistry through lectures. Based on this experience, students are required to propose experimental approaches to biological problems and defend them.

BMB 710 – Advanced Topics in Biochemistry

This course is offered by various faculty members in the department on a rotating basis depending upon their expertise. For example, an advanced topic course in bionanotechnology and biosensing offered by Dr. Deo covers these topics through lectures. Another advanced course topic taught by Dr. Zhang is DNA repair.

BMB 714 – Molecular Genetics

This course deals with fundamental genetic concepts and their application to biomedical research. The objective is to provide students with the tools of molecular genetics and an understanding of how genetic principles apply to organisms at various levels of complexity. The course is divided into two parts, with an exam following each module.
  • The first module is devoted to fundamental genetic mechanisms including complementation, recombination, suppression, and gene regulation as established by experiments with bacteria and bacteriophages.
  • The second module deals with genetic mechanisms in eukaryotic systems including yeast, mice, and humans. Problem solving is emphasized in homework and exams. Since the focus is on understanding the biological consequences of underlying genetic mechanisms, this course will provide valuable insights for students interested in molecular mechanisms encountered in such diverse areas of biomedical research as molecular biology, microbiology, cell biology, cancer biology, pharmacology, and human genomics.

BMB 715 – Structural Biology and Applications to Drug Discovery

This course provides an introduction to structural biology and illustrates how understanding the relationship between structure and function of biological macromolecules drives drug discovery.
  • The course is taught in three parts, with the first covering experimental and computational tools of structural biology: X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and molecular modeling.
  • The second part of the course will look at two examples demonstrating where structural biology has influenced drug design – traditional enzyme inhibitor type drugs and channel blocker drugs.
  • The final part of this course will look at structures of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) binding proteins and how they inform drug discovery.

BMB 716 – Analysis and Prediction of Gene Regulation and Protein Function

This course covers bioinformatics with a focus on the use of tools and biological databases to better understand gene regulation and protein function. Students will carry out a term project involving analysis and functional prediction of a set of uncharacterized E. coli genes and their encoded proteins.

BMB 731 – Special Work

Independent study as assigned by mentor.

BMB 830 – Doctoral Dissertation

Required for all PhD candidates. The student will enroll for credits as determined by the Office of Graduate Studies but not more than a total of 12 each for Spring and Fall, and no more than 3 for Summer. If a student has A) passed the qualifying exam and (B) is engaged in an assistantship, he/she may still take the maximum allowable credits.

BMB 840 – Doctoral Dissertation (Post Candidacy)

Required for all PhD candidates. The student will enroll for credits as determined by the Office of Graduate Studies but not more than a total of 12 each for Spring and Fall, and no more than 3 for Summer.

BMB 850 – Doctoral Dissertation

Used to establish research in residence for the PhD, after the student has been enrolled for the permissible cumulative total in appropriate doctoral research. A minimum of 1 credit will granted for BMB 750. The student may be regarded as full-time research in residence as determined by the Dean of the Graduate School.