Department of Chemistry



Biological Chemistry Program Overview

Biological Chemistry Curriculum

Graduate students will complete a total of 4 classes that include two core Chemical Biology graduate courses.

Chemical Biology I explores the chemistry underlying biological macromolecules and cellular processes, while explaining fundamental techniques that are being employed in chemical biology labs, such as the generation and application of nucleic acid-based reagents and the discovery of small molecule and peptide inhibitors of enzymes.

In Chemical Biology II students will learn about advanced methodologies to detect and perturb cellular function, such as genetically encoded reporters and gene editing tools. In addition, recent examples from the primary literature on how chemical approaches have enabled biological discoveries will be discussed. Potential topics may include activity based probes, kinase inhibitors, unnatural amino acid mutagenesis, small molecule switches of protein function, chemically induced protein degradation, HDAC inhibition, riboswitches, optogenetics, enzyme engineering and DNA-encoded small molecule synthesis.

In order to personalize the educational experience of every student, these two core courses are then augmented in a variety of ways to either specialize your knowledge in biological chemistry or broaden your skill set through courses in other chemical disciplines. This will be achieved by selecting courses from across the university and the medical school (e.g., molecular biology, cancer biology, protein folding, or optical microscopy) and/or through departmental courses that focus on organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, or materials science.

Program Overview
The overall program is flexible in order to meet the diverse scientific goals of individual students. Requirements designed to prepare students for research are completed by the end of the second year. Over five years, the general program is:

Year One:
Class work - typically two courses per semester, teaching, and selection of a research mentor.

Year Two:
First full-year of research, submit a 2-page pre-comprehensive exam document in January and select a 3 member committee. 

Year Three:
By the end of the Fall Semester complete the comprehensive exam, and continue your research efforts

Year Four:
Submit and defend an original research proposal.  Continue your research efforts with opportunities to present your research as a 20 minute talk in the Biological Chemistry Student Seminar Series.

By Year Five:
Publish, write a doctoral dissertation, and present a public defense of your research results.