Course Descriptions

Core Courses

  • An introductory course: BIOL 807: Graduate Molecular Biosciences, CHEM 760: Introduction to Chemistry in Biology, MDM 766: Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways, or PHCH 862: Pharmaceutical Equilibria
  • BIOL 860/ CHEM 860/ MDCM 860/ PHCH 860: Principles and Practice of Chemical Biology.  (3 hours, lecture) A survey of topics investigated by chemical biology methods including: transcription and translation, cell signaling, genetic and genomics, biochemical pathways, macromolecular structure, and the biosynthesis of peptides, carbohydrates, natural products, and nucleic acids.  Concepts of thermodynamics and kinetics, bioconjugations and bioorthogonal chemistry will also be presented​.  Prerequisite: BIOL 807 or CHEM 760 or MDCM 766 or PHCM 862 or permission of instructor.
  • BIOL 816/ CHEM 816/ MDCM 816/ PHCH 816: Careers in Chemical Biology.  (1 hour, seminar; taken 4 semesters).  Advanced course examining current research topics in chemical biology. An emphasis will be placed on career options open to PhD scientists in Chemical Biology, and preparation for the different career paths.  Extensive student/faculty interaction is emphasized utilizing lectures, class discussion of assigned readings of research reports, and oral presentations.  Prerequisite: Concurrent or previous enrollment in BIOL 860/ CHEM 860/ MDCM 860/ PHCH 860 or permission of instructor.
  • Ethics Training: BIOL 804: Scientific Integrity, CHEM 700: Responsible Scholarship in the Chemical Sciences, MDCM 801: Issues in Scientific Integrity, or PHCH 804: Issues in Scientific Integrity


  • BIOL 570: Introduction to Biostatistics.  Statistical concepts related to biological problems. Topics include the scientific method, data representation, descriptive statistics, elementary probability distributions, estimation and hypothesis testing, emphasizing the analysis of variation. 
  • BIOL 688: Molecular Biology of Cancer.  The basic concepts of molecular biology are examined and used to probe the process by which a normal cell becomes a cancer cell. The course investigates DNA damage and repair, chemical carcinogenesis, gene cloning and manipulation, the control of gene expression in eukaryotes, tumor viruses, the roles of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in carcinogenesis, and cancer therapy. 
  • BIOL 754: Brain Diseases & Neurological Disorders.  Major brain diseases and neurological disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, etc., will be discussed in terms of the etiology, molecular, and cellular basis of potential therapeutic interventions. Graduate students are required to present original research paper assigned by the instructor to the class in addition to the other assignments for all the students enrolled.
  • BIOL 757: Carcinogenesis & Cancer Biology.  This course surveys the field of cancer research. The major goal is to introduce the breadth of cancer research while, at the same time, providing sufficient depth to allow the student to recognize problems in cancer and to design experiments which study cancer biology. Toward that end, the student should (at the conclusion of the course) be able to: define cancer, identify and discuss its causes; identify and discuss the genetic basis for cancer development and progression; discuss the theoretical basis for cancer therapy design and efficacy testing; discuss the biochemical, molecular and cellular events involved in the natural history of major human neoplasms. 
  • BIOL 812: Mechanisms of Host-Parasite Relationships.  Emphasis is on virulence factors of microorganisms and the host response to infection. Topics will include pathogenesis of intracellular and extracellular parasites, bacterial adhesins, and toxins, and the role of innate and acquired immunity in host resistance and the response to infection. 
  • BIOL 918: Modern Biochemical and Biophysical Methods.  A course emphasizing the use of techniques for solving problems of structure and function of biological macromolecules.  Students complete several modules that consist of lectures and laboratory experiences relating to theory and practical aspects of each methodological approach and apply these techniques to solving a specific problem.
  • CHEM 740: Principles of Organic Reactions.  A consideration of the structural features and driving forces that control the course of chemical reactions.  Topics include acid and base properties of functional groups, qualitative aspects of strain, steric, inductive, resonance and solvent effects on reactivity, stereochemistry and conformations, an introduction to orbital symmetry control, basic thermodynamic and kinetic concepts and an overview of some important classes of mechanisms.
  • CHEM 750: Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy.  An introductory study of the application of quantum mechanics to atomic and molecular systems.  Includes an introduction to the basic principles of quantum theory, description of electronic structure of atoms and molecules and the foundations of spectroscopy.  Contains a brief presentation of group theory and its applications to the analysis of molecular symmetry, spectra and structure.
  • CHEM 840: Physical Organic Chemistry.  An examination of the methods used to probe the mechanisms of organic reactions and of the chemistry of some important reactive intermediates. Topics will include isotope effects, kinetics, linear free energy relationships, solvent effects, a continuing discussion of orbital symmetry, rearrangements, carbocations, carbanions, carbenes, radicals, excited states, and strained molecules. 
  • CHEM 854: Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics.  A study of the rates, mechanisms, and dynamics of chemical reactions in gases and liquids. Topics include an advanced overview of classical kinetics, reaction rate theories (classical collision theory, transition-state theory and introductory scattering theory), potential energy surfaces, molecular beam reactions, photochemistry, Marcus electron transfer theory and other areas of current interest. 
  • MDCM 775: Chemistry of the Nervous System.  A detailed study of the molecular aspects of nerve transmission will be covered with special emphasis on the uptake, storage, release, biosynthesis, and metabolism of specific neurotransmitters. Drugs affecting these processes and current research on receptor isolation and receptor mechanisms will be discussed from a chemical viewpoint.
  • MDCM 785: Natural Products of Medical Significance. A discussion of biosynthesis, isolation, structure determination, partial synthesis and total chemical synthesis of organic natural products of medicinal significance. Examples of the classes of compounds to be considered include steroid hormones, cardiac glycosides, alkaloids, antibiotics and terpenes.
  • MDCM 790:Chemistry of Drug Action 2.  A discussion of the principles of contemporary drug design with specific examples chosen from the original literature. Prodrugs; bioisosteres; kcat inhibitors; active site directed reversible and irreversible inhibitors; quantitative SAR; modulation of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion; molecular dissection; rigid analogs; pharmacophores; etc., will be treated. 
  • PHCH 626: Biopharmaceutics & Drug Delivery.  A study of biological barriers to drug delivery, conventional dosage forms, and new and future drug delivery strategies. 
  • PHCH 725: Molecular Cell Biology. Fundamental and advanced concepts in cell biology and the molecular interactions responsible for cell function, homeostasis and disease will be presented. Current analytical methods for examining cells and their molecular components will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on the chemical and physical properties of individual proteins, nucleic acids and lipids and their assembly into cellular and subcellular structures.

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