Course Offerings | Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Division of Science and Mathematics

Margaret Richey (chair, fall term), Stephen Asmus (chair, Centre and spring term), Stephanie Dew; students: Emily Anderson, Chris Fleming

Centre’s program in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) is designed to provide a solid introduction to the cellular and molecular fundamentals of life. This program meets the needs of a variety of students: those who want to pursue biochemistry, cell biology, and/or molecular genetics in graduate school, those who want to pursue a career in the health professions (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or allied health fields), and those biology, chemistry, or physics students who want to broaden and complement their course of studies.

The overall design of the BMB major is to "build up," starting in the freshman-sophomore years with a solid foundation in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, as well as biology. The "payoff" then comes in the junior and senior years, as we progress from macromolecules to cellular metabolism to molecular genetics to cell biology. At the same time, these junior-senior BMB courses introduce the student to most of the major experimental tools that are critical to this molecular understanding of life. Finally, students are exposed to a wide spectrum of research currently underway in this field, partly by a senior seminar on current research topics, and partly by the expectation that most BMB upper-class students will be involved in research participation, either at Centre or in several off-campus programs with which we are affiliated.

With appropriate post-baccalaureate work, the BMB major will prepare students for a wide variety of professions in the sciences—careers in medicine or other health sciences; biological and chemical research in academia, government, or private industry; and teaching.

Recommended Freshman-Sophomore Preparation

Students contemplating a major in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) should plan to take CHE 135 in their freshman year or complete the CHE 131, CHE 132 sequence by fall term sophomore year. They should also take BIO 110 in their freshman year, either fall or spring term. They should then continue in their sophomore year with CHE 241 and CHE 341. If CHE 132 is taken in the fall term of the sophomore year, students should take CHE 241 spring term and CHE 341 fall term of the junior year. BMB 210, which has a corequisite of CHE 241, should be taken in the sophomore year, either fall or spring term. In addition to these required courses, prospective BMB majors should carefully consider the following list of recommended freshman-sophomore courses, paying particular attention to other 100- and 200-level courses required for the major, as well as to electives. Some of these courses, although they could be deferred to later years, when taken in the sophomore year can provide a more timely preparation for a particular upper-division objective (such as taking graduate or professional school admissions exams, or participating in off-campus studies).

Other recommended freshman-sophomore courses

BIO 210, BIO 225, CHE 250, MAT 170, PHY 110 or 210.

Requirements for the Major

BIO 110; BMB 210; CHE 131and 132, or CHE 135; CHE 241and 341; MAT 140 or 170 or placement in 171 or higher; PHY 110 or 210.
BMB 310, 320, 330, 340, 500;
BMB 316 and at least one of BMB 335, 345;
One of the following physical science courses: PHY 210 (if not used above), PHY 230, CHE 250, CHE 361;
One of the following biological science courses: BIO 335, 340, 345, 350, 355 and 455.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Courses

BMB 210 Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (four credit hours)
A study of the fundamental structures and processes which make life possible. The cell is taken as the "common denominator" of all life. Central topics in the course are the structure and function of macromolecules, organelles and membranes, and the pathways of energy flow and information transfer in the cell. Prerequisite: BIO 110, CHE 131 and 132 or CHE 135, CHE 241 (CHE 241 may be taken concurrently). Laboratory work is required. Note: Prospective BMB and BIO majors with strong backgrounds in chemistry are advised to take BMB 210 in the fall of their sophomore year alongside CHE 241; other students with weaker backgrounds in chemistry may be better served by first completing CHE 241 in the fall and then taking BMB 210 in the spring of their sophomore year.

BMB 310 Macromolecules
A study of the four major families of biological molecules: polysaccharides, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. The course covers the composition and configuration of these compounds, analysis of their physical and chemical properties, and the molecular mechanisms of their functions in metabolism and ultrastructure of the cell. Prerequisite: CHE 241 and BMB 210.

BMB 316 Biochemistry Lab Techniques
This laboratory course provides a broad introduction to techniques used in biochemical analysis, incluing protein purification, enzyme kinetics and the use of radioisotopes. Prerequisite: BMB 310.

BMB 320 Cellular Metabolism
A study of the intermediary metabolism of living cells. The principal metabolic pathways studied are those which provide for synthesis, degradation, and interconversion of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides. Particular emphasis is given to respiration and photosynthesis as central bioenergetic processes in the cell. Prerequisite: BMB 310 or permission of the instructor.

BMB 330 Molecular Genetics
A study of the molecular basis of genetic control in living cells. Primary areas of interest are the nucleic acid organization of genes; their packaging within chromosomes; and the replication, modification, mutation, repair, recombination, transcription, translation, control, evolution, and engineering of genes. Prerequisite: BMB 310 or permission of the instrucutor.

BMB 335 Laboratory in Molecular Genetics
(one credit hour)

This laboratory course introduces molecular genetic research techniques. Standard experiments in this field are performed, including: DNA isolation, plasmid purification, restriction enzyme digests and mapping, gel elution, ligation reactions, transformations, polymerase chain reactions, Southern blots, DNA hybridization analyses and DNA sequencing analysis/bioinformatics. Prerequisite: BMB 330 or concurrently.

BMB 340 Cell Biology
A study of eukaryotic cell structure and function at the molecular level. Topics include modern approaches to studying cells, membrane structure and function, intracellular compartments, protein sorting, exo- and endocytosis, cell signaling, cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix, cell and molecular mechanisms of development, and cancer. Prerequisite: BMB 330 or permission of the instructor.

BMB 345 Laboratory in Cell Biology
(one credit hour)
This laboratory course introduces cell biology research techniques, including cell culture, immunocytochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, and digital imaging of microscopic images. Prerequisite: BMB 340 or concurrently.

BMB 500 Senior Seminar
A study of current research topics in biochemistry and molecular biology through analysis of research articles and by presentations from visiting lecturers. Students are expected actively to participate in discussion and to present several formal talks. It is intended that all of the areas covered in the BMB major will be represented by the topics and speakers chosen. In addition, students write a research paper and give a presentation on a topic of their own choosing. Open only to senior BMB majors.

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