Course Descriptions

Our interdisciplinary curriculum covers the growing field of Chemical Biology and provides unique training in ethics, professional development, and responsible research conduct.

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​.
  • BIOL 816/ CHEM 816/ MDCM 816/ PHCH 816: Careers in Chemical Biology. (1 hour, seminar; taken 2 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.
  • BIOL 817/CHEM 817/MDCM 817/PHCH 817: Rigor, Reproducibility, and the Responsible Conduct of Research (1 hour semester, taken 2 semesters). The goal is for all students to learn to evaluate the information acquired from experiments across diverse fields and how to spot a rigorous methodology that is transparently documented and is likely to be reproducible.This class addresses the recognized problems in rigor, reproducibility, and transparency that are plaguing modern science. Students will learn the fundamentals of hypothesis design, avoiding bias, randomization, sampling, and appropriate statistical analyses, reagent validation, among other key topics. This course also introduces principles for being an ethical, responsible, and professional research scientist. Topics include: plagiarism, fabrication and falsification of data, record keeping and data sharing, mentor/mentee and collaborative relationships, among others. The class will include a mixture of lecture, case studies and discussion.


  • BCHM 808: Methods for Analyzing Biomolecules. ​Application of physical techniques to the study of biological macromolecules in solution. Emphasis on utilization of data obtained from such studies in interpreting biological processes at the molecular level. Course will be taught in the spring. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. LEC.
  • BCHM 923: Protein Structure and Function. The relationship between protein structure, binding, and physiological function. Emphasis is on proteins as enzymes, structural components, and regulators. Course will be taught in the spring. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. LEC.
  • BIOL 503: Immunology. Lectures on the nature and mechanisms of natural and acquired resistance including humoral and cellular immunity. Characteristics of antigens and antibodies and of their interaction; ontogeny and cellular basis of immune responsiveness, hypersensitivity; specific immunologic tolerance. Prerequisite: BIOL 400 or BIOL 401, or consent of instructor.
  • BIOL 506: Bacterial Infectious Diseases.​ Explores bacterial infectious diseases from the perspective of how disease is established and the mechanisms that underlie disease, as well as how to treat and prevent infectious disease. Not open to freshmen or sophomores. Prerequisite: BIOL 400 or BIOL 401, or consent of instructor.
  • BIOL 512: General Virology. Lectures and discussions covering the basic nature and characteristics of viruses from a general biological point of view: viruses of bacteria, animals and plants, physical-chemical properties; host cell-viral interactions; mode of replication of DNA and RNA viruses, tumor viruses. Prerequisite: BIOL 400, BIOL 401 or consent of instructor.
  • 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. Prerequisite: College algebra and ten hours of natural science.
  • BIOL 650: Advanced Neurobiology. The course builds an in depth knowledge about basic mechanisms of synaptic communication among nerve cells and their targets, and the structure and function of nervous systems. Topics include nervous system development and synapse formation, structure and function of neurons, physiological and molecular basis of synaptic communication between neurons, mechanisms of synaptic plasticity involved in learning and memory, sensory systems (vision, auditory, vestibular, motor reflexes and pain), processing of neural information at cellular and system levels, synapse regeneration and diseases of the nervous system. Prerequisite: BIOL 435 (Introduction to Neurobiology), or consent of instructor.
  • 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.
  • BIOL 918: Modern Biochemical & Biophysical Methods. This course emphasizes the use of techniques for solving problems of structure and function of biological macromolecules. Students will complete several modules that consist of lectures relating to theory and practical aspects of each methodological approach, and apply these techniques to solving a specific problem. Students will submit a paper describing the resulting data and conclusions. Prerequisite: BIOL 807, BIOL 817, or permission of instructor.
  • BIOL 952: Introduction to Molecular Modeling. Introduction to theory and practice of contemporary molecular modeling, including molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics, computer graphics, data analysis, use of structure and sequence databases, docking, and homology modeling. Weekly computer laboratory section aimed at allowing participants to pursue independent research projects that incorporate modeling aspects. Lectures, laboratory manuals, program descriptions, and technical notes are presented on course web page. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor.
  • CHEM 742: Spectroscopic Identification of Organic Compounds. The use of techniques such as infrared, nuclear magnetic resonance, and ultraviolet spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry for elucidating the structure of organic molecules. A lecture and workshop course. Prerequisite: CHEM 626 and CHEM 627.
  • CHEM 826: Mass Spectrometry. An introduction to mass spectrometry. The various ionization techniques and mass analyzers will be discussed, and many examples of different mass spectrometric applications will be introduced. Prerequisite: CHEM 720.
  • ENTR 701: Entrepreneurship. ​Learn the entrepreneurial process - the approach successful entrepreneurs use to find a new business opportunity and determine its viability. Using videos, guest speakers, case studies and step-by-step presentations, the course provides a foundation to help you discover your entrepreneurial strengths, identify a solid new business opportunity and determine the resources necessary to bring that to market.
  • JOUR 700: Effective College Teaching. ​Teaching revolves around learning. So a course about teaching must, by nature, focus on learning about learning. This course will will cover more than learning, but learning will be central, both in terms of how to help students learn but also how teaching itself is really about learning.
  • LDST 730: Managing the Work of Leadership. Through webinars and case in point pedagogy, this course prepares students to manage the day to day communicative and executive functions necessary for doing the work of leadership. Topics will include crisis management, stakeholder engagement, speech writing, fundraising, image management, and professionalization.
  • MDCM 790:Chemistry of Drug Action II.A discussion of the principles of contemporary drug design with specific examples chosen from the original literature. This course covers the organic substances used as medicinal agents, including consideration of their origins, chemical properties, structure-activity relationships, metabolism and mechanisms of actions.
  • PHCH 626: Biopharmaceutics & Drug Delivery. A study of biological barriers to drug delivery, conventional dosage forms, and new and future drug delivery strategies.
  • PHCH 705: Writing & Communicating Science for Graduate Students.Communicating research proposals and experimental findings is a critical skill for scientists. Successful communication depends on clarity of thought and careful use of language. This course will use class discussions with examples and homework assignments to help prepare the graduate student to successfully communicate in both academia and industry settings. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in PHCH or consent of the instructor.
  • PHCH 712: Road Map to the Development and Regulatory Approval of a New Drug. This special topics course will cover key steps in developing and bringing a new drug through pharmaceutical development and regulatory approval and into commercial use. Development of both traditional small-molecule chemical drugs and biotechnology-based protein drugs will be discussed. Example topics include: (1) how does a drug candidate move from its discovery at the lab bench into clinical trials? (2) what are the key hurdles in developing a new medicine that can be produced at large-scale in a manufacturing facility? (3) why are patents and venture capital so important in drug development? Guest lecturers will provide real world perspectives including case studies. This is two-hour class that meets 8 times during the semester. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Pharmaceutical Chemistry or a trainee of the NIH Biotech Training Grant.
  • PHCH 715: Drug Delivery. The course will survey the latest technology for delivering pharmaceuticals and biologicals to reduce side effects and enhance drug efficacy. The course will survey the latest research in this area and examine more classical delivery methods. A qualitative and quantitative understanding of drug delivery practice and theory is the goal.
  • PHCH 725: Molecular Cell Biology. Fundamentals and advanced concepts in cell biology and the molecular interactions responsible for cell functions, 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. (Same as C&PE 725.) Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor.