BCM 341 Course Description

BCM 341 is a writing intensive, fall semester course typically taken in the 3rd or 4th year of the biochemistry major. Two semesters of Organic Chemistry are prerequsite. BCM 341 is required for the biochemistry major, but it is also ideal for chemistry or biology majors seeking exposure to modern biochemistry in a laboratory setting. The significant laboratory component is excellent preparation for graduate or professional school.

BCM 341 is a course concerned with experimentation in modern biochemistry. The course is divided into two modules. For the first half, the course will explore foundational experimental techniques vital to biochemical experimentation in a variety of research contexts. We will consider the theory behind the techniques as well as correct experimental practice. This will all take place in the context of a guided investigation of the enzyme Glycine oxidase from Bacillus subtilis. For the first module, students will work in groups; however, each student is expected to fully participate in each activity. Students will be evaluated on the understanding of these foundational techniques as well as quality of experimental practice.

The skills learned in module 1 will be applied and extended in module 2, as students design and execute an original research project. Students will write a research proposal (2 drafts required) on an extension of the B. subtilis Glycine oxidase project, and under the guidance of the instructor. While students are conducting their own discovery driven projects, they will also engage in seminar style journal club discussions on innovative techniques and applications in modern experimental biochemistry. Topics include: protein mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, protein NMR, Transient-state enzyme kinetics and proteomics. Discussion will focus on the use of these techniques to understand biochemical systems rather than the theory behind their application. Students will be evaluated on their ability to recognize situations in experimental biochemistry where these “modern” techniques could be applied. The culmination of module 2 is the research paper and presentation from each student on their original research project.