BCMB: Cell & Developmental BiologyProgram Courses
Biochemistry and Structural Biology
This two-semester course covers equilibria, bond formation, protein chemistry and structure, nucleic acid chemistry and structure, ligand binding, chemical and enzyme kinetics, enzyme reaction mechanism, principles of macromolecular analysis, principles of protein purification, and principles of macromolecular recognition and specificity.
This elective course offers an overview of modern biophysical experimental techniques used in the study of biological systems at the cellular and molecular level. Topics include light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, Fourier optics and image processing, confocal and multiphoton microscopy, evanescent-wave microscopy and fluorescence correlations spectroscopy, phase contrast, electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, multidimensional NMR, chromophores, calcium measurements, resonance energy transfer, membrane biophysics, ion channels, action potentials, ligand-gated channels, fluctuation analysis, patch-clamping, rapid kinetics, caged compounds, transmitter release, capacitance measurements, amperometry, optical traps, molecular force measurements, and computer modeling. While a basic knowledge of physics and mathematics is helpful, this is an interdisciplinary course designed for students with diverse backgrounds.
Cell Biology and Development
This course explores key aspects of cell and developmental biology at a detailed molecular level. The focus is on the integration of structure/function relationships for proteins and signaling pathways within the cell and in the intact organism. Specific topics include: membrane structure, protein biosynthesis and vesicular trafficking, endocytosis, cell architecture and motility, receptor and oncogene-mediated signaling, signaling in a developmentally regulated context, and stem cell biology. The course consists of two lectures per week plus one interactive discussion section involving current research papers.
Cryoelectron Microscopy of Macromolecular Assemblies
This course, which is held on the premises of the New York Structural Biology Center, will cover the theory and practice of solving molecular structures by electron microscopy. It blends a series of lectures from local experts followed by student-led discussion sessions with practical sessions that parallel the topics introduced during the lectures. The course first covers optics, sample preparation and a basic mathematical description of diffraction before moving into a detailed exploration of the three main methods of structure determination: tomography, single particle analysis, and 2D crystallography. The course ends with a discussion of map interpretation and molecular fitting.
Gene Structure and Function
This is a two-quarter course that explores the regulatory mechanisms governing the flow of information in cells from DNA to RNA to protein. The first module of the course deals with DNA replication, recombination and repair, and introduces basic principles of DNA topology and protein-DNA interactions as they apply to these and other processes. In the next module, the fundamentals of gene structure and transcription are presented. Topics to be discussed include: structure and function of transcription factors and RNA polymerases, mechanisms of transcriptional activation and repression, the effects of chromatin on transcription, analysis of transcriptional networks by proteomics and functional genomics, and transcriptional control of the cell cycle. The final module covers post-initiation maturation and processing of mRNA, culminating with its translation into protein. Topics include: mRNA capping, splicing and polyadenylation, regulation of mRNA stability, mechanisms and functions of RNA interference (RNAi), and mechanisms and regulation of translation.
Graduate Research Seminar Series
This course represents an opportunity for students in their third year or above to describe their research in formal seminar presentations to the students and faculty of the Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Cell & Developmental Biology, and Molecular Biology programs. All students from these programs attend the seminars and a small panel of students is designated to lead the discussion following each seminar.
Logic and Critical Analysis
This course is designed to promote the critical analysis skills necessary to be a successful scientist. Students read papers from the primary literature and discuss the experiments described. Questions addressed are: what was the hypothesis, what were the experiments designed to test, what other information is necessary to interpret the experiment, do the experiments accomplish their goals, what problems exist in the experiments, and where might you go from here?
To develop critical analysis skills, the first group of presentations will emphasize one or two figures only in each paper. Subsequently, two to three papers will be assigned as a thematic group by each instructor and will be discussed sequentially.
This course is organized around the principles of genetic analysis, with examples chosen from organisms that best illustrate those principles. The course is based on lectures, problem sets and discussion sections. Topics covered include: the nature of the gene, linkage and physical maps, recombination mechanisms, nature of mutations, mutations as tools to dissect gene function, transposition, epigenetics, cancer genetics, genetic analysis of development, and cell-cell signaling.
Responsible Conduct of Research
The objectives of this course are to heighten students' awareness of ethical considerations relevant to the conduct of research; inform students of federal, state, and institutional policies, regulations, and procedures; and provide students with critical analysis and problem solving skills for ethical decision-making.