Structural Biology and Biophysics Training Program (SBB-TP)

Courses and Curriculum

The first semester curriculum is designed to give students without much background in biology an introduction to cell and molecular biology, with two courses known as C3MB (CBIO453/455). Alternatively, this goal is achieved by a graduate course that emphasizes faculty-directed student self-learning and in-class discussions (BIOC/PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 456 - entitled "Conversations on protein and nucleic acid structure & function"). Students with sufficient prior background in biology and biochemistry can also take a more in-depth lecture and discussion course such as a modular course in Advanced Structural Biology (BIOC/ PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 430) with separate sections on x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, NMR, mass spectrometry and proteomics and drug design.

Three short laboratory rotations in the first semester and attendance of seminars of the participating departments and a journal club co-organized by the Cleveland Center for Membrane and Structural Biology offer in-depth information about ongoing research projects and opportunities for thesis research projects.

After the first semester, students join the graduate program in either Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics or in Systems Biology. All four departmental programs/centers provide opportunities for thesis research in structural biology and/or molecular and cellular biophysics, but differ somewhat in required discipline-specific courses (for details see graduate programs in Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics and Systems Biology). Some of the popular spring courses taken by sbb-tp students include Introduction to Structural Biology (3) (BIOC/PHRM/PHOL 434), Advanced Protein Biophysics (BIOC/CHEM/PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 475), Cell Signaling (PHOL /PHRM 466).

Selected Course Descriptions:

Cell and Molecular Biology ("C3MB", including CBIO 453 and CBIO 455)

Course Director: George R. Dubyak

Part of the first semester curriculum for first year graduate students along with CBIO 453. This course is designed to give students an intensive introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular biology. Topics include protein structure and function, DNA and chromosome structure, DNA replication, RNA transcription and its regulation, RNA processing, and protein synthesis. Important methods in molecular biology are also presented.

Conversations on protein and nucleic acid structure & function (BIOC/PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 456)

Course Director: Matthias Buck

The course presents an overview of protein structure/function. Following an introduction to the principles of protein structure, the physical basis of protein folding and stability, and a brief overview of structural and bioinformatics approaches to protein analysis is presented. Typically two lecture/ discussion style presentations are followed by a student lead journal club on recent high profile papers. The way the journal club is done is that one student presents a paper (background and figures in powerpoint slides) while presentation of the main figures is shared between the class. Papers and figures will be assigned by instructor. Typically two papers will be presented per session.

Introduction to Structural Biology (BIOC/PHRM/PHOL 434)

Course Director: Paul Carey

The objective is to introduce students from a variety of backgrounds to the principles and techniques of structural biology. The major forces determining macromolecular structure and function will be reviewed, followed by introductions to X-ray crystallography, NMR, fluorescence and vibrational spectroscopies, cryo-electron microscopy and bioinformatics. Graduate students in any area of structural biology should take this course in preparation for Advanced Structural Biology Bioc/Phrm/Phol/Chem 430.

Advanced Structural Biology (BIOC/ PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 430)

Course Directors: Paul Carey / Chris Dealwis

Provides students with an in-depth introduction to biophysical techniques used to quantify macromolecular structures. The course will be made up of 6 topic-specific modules each 5 weeks in length. The topics will include X-ray crystallography, NMR, mass spectrometry, (cryo) electron microscopy, and optical spectroscopy. Each module will aim to give the student a basis for research in his PhD area. Students may select from 3-6 modules for the corresponding number of credits.

Advanced Protein Biophysics (BIOC/CHEM/PHRM/PHOL/SYBB 475)

Course Director: Matthias Buck

This course focuses on in-depth understanding of the molecular biophysics of proteins. Structural, thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of protein function and structure-function relationships will considered at the advanced conceptual level. The application of these theoretical frameworks will be illustrated with examples from the literature and integration of biophysical knowledge with description at the cellular and systems level. The format consists of lectures, problems sets, and student presentations. A special emphasis will be placed on discussion of original publications.

Cell Signaling (PHOL /PHRM 466)

Course Director: George R. Dubyak

This is an advanced lecture/journal/discussion format course that covers cell signaling mechanisms. Includes are discussions of neurotransmitter-gated ion channels, growth factor receptor kinases, cytokine receptors, G protein-coupled receptors, steroid receptors, heterotrimeric G proteins, ras family GTPases, second messenger cascades, protein kinase cascades, second messenger regulation of transcription factors, microtubule-based motility, actin/myosin-based motility, signals for regulation of cell cycle, signals for regulation of apoptosis.