2016-17 General Bulletin

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Room W-427, School of Medicine
http://www.case.edu/med/biochemistry/
Phone: 216.368.3334; Fax: 216.368.3419
Michael Weiss, MD, PhD, MBA, Chair

Inca Dorsey, Coordinator

Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of cellular function, making it a central discipline in the biological sciences. Biochemists ask the question, “How do life processes work at the molecular level?” The Department of Biochemistry offers undergraduate programs leading to the bachelor of arts degree and bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and graduate programs leading to the master of science, doctor of philosophy, and dual-degree programs as follows: doctor of medicine/doctor of philosophy degree; doctor of medicine/masters of science in biomedical investigation; juris doctor/masters of science in biochemistry.

The department also participates in several interdisciplinary and interdepartmental programs in the School of Medicine and at Case Western Reserve University that provide additional avenues of study. Research interests within the department include a spectrum of modern biochemical topics in six broad areas: enzymology, protein chemistry, structural biology, gene expression, cell biology, and molecular medicine/gene therapy. The department has state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for research in modern biochemistry. More complete information about the undergraduate and graduate programs may be obtained by contacting the departmental office or by using the URL above.

Research Areas

Research of Department of Biochemistry faculty members covers a broad spectrum of topics from events at the level of electron movement in biochemical reactions to the intracellular trafficking of proteins. Research in the department is broadened by collaborations with faculty in other university departments and with scientists at other Cleveland research institutions. The specific areas of active research within the department are outlined below.

Proteins and Enzymes

Proteins are components of all living tissue, and their function is critical for life processes. Understanding the chemical mechanisms of enzymatic catalysis is essential for determining the role of individual proteins in human disease. Biochemistry faculty study a variety of proteins and enzymes ranging from growth factors to oncogenes.

Structural Biology

The function of a protein is determined by its three-dimensional structure and interactions. Faculty apply many modern techniques to the determination of macromolecular structure, including X-ray crystallography, and multidimensional heteronuclear NMR, fluorescence, Raman, and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Macromolecules under investigation Include, transcarboxylase, ribosomes, DNA-protein complexes, and neurochemical enzymes.

Regulation of Gene Expression

The elucidation of mechanisms regulating gene expression is a major goal of modern biology. Biochemistry faculty study the control of transcription by hormones and other regulatory molecules, the interaction between proteins and DNA, the function of oncogenes, the basal and hormone mediated transcriptional machinery, and the processing and translation of RNA.

Cell Biology

The control of the metabolism, differentiation and cell signaling within and between cells is an area of active investigation.

Metabolic Regulation

Biochemistry faculty investigate the control of metabolism in animals, such as dietary and hormonal regulation of gene expression. Transgenic murine technology allows the study of the impact of gene ablation on metabolic processes.

BA Biochemistry  I  BS Biochemistry  I  Minor

Undergraduate Programs

Major

The two undergraduate major programs in Biochemistry, BA and BS, are based on the Arts & Sciences General Education Requirements, but differ in amount and intensity of the mathematics and physical sciences required. Either degree is excellent for students planning to undertake graduate work in biochemistry or in related areas of the biomedical sciences. Both the BA and the BS programs permit students to follow many options after graduation. Graduates are well prepared to pursue further studies in the biological sciences, for a career in medicine, for Doctor of Pharmacy programs, for employment in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, or as research assistants in research laboratories. The BA has a reduced emphasis on the quantitative aspects of science and makes available a considerable amount of elective time that permits a student to either concentrate on biochemistry even more intensively than the curriculum requires, or pursue other subjects in science or liberal arts. The BS degree is for the student who has a particularly strong interest in the quantitative physical sciences. 

In both programs, undergraduate research is required. As many as nine hours of Research in Biochemistry (BIOC 391 Research Project) may be credited toward the requirements for graduation. The capstone in Biochemistry (BIOC 393 Senior Capstone Experience) is a thesis and presentation of a student's undergraduate research studies. 

Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry

Required Courses:
BIOC 307Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science4
BIOC 308Molecular Biology4
BIOC 373Biochemistry SAGES Seminar (SAGES Departmental Seminar)3
Biochemsitry elective:3
Proteins and Enzymes
Structural Biology
Two approved technical electives in biochemistry6
BIOC 393Senior Capstone Experience3
Additional Required Courses:
BIOL 214
214L
Genes, Evolution and Ecology
and Genes, Evolution and Ecology Lab
4
BIOL 215
215L
Cells and Proteins
and Cells and Proteins Laboratory
4
CHEM 105Principles of Chemistry I3-4
or CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry for Engineers
CHEM 106Principles of Chemistry II3-4
or ENGR 145 Chemistry of Materials
Principles of Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM 223Introductory Organic Chemistry I3
or CHEM 323 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 224Introductory Organic Chemistry II3
or CHEM 324 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 233Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory I2
CHEM 234Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory II2
CHEM 301Introductory Physical Chemistry I3
MATH 125Math and Calculus Applications for Life, Managerial, and Social Sci I4
or MATH 121 Calculus for Science and Engineering I
MATH 126Math and Calculus Applications for Life, Managerial, and Social Sci II4
or MATH 122 Calculus for Science and Engineering II
PHYS 115Introductory Physics I4
or PHYS 121 General Physics I - Mechanics
PHYS 116Introductory Physics II4
or PHYS 122 General Physics II - Electricity and Magnetism
Total Units66-68

BA Biochemistry, Sample Plan of Study 

FreshmanUnits
FallSpring
Math and Calculus Applications for Life, Managerial, and Social Sci I (MATH 125)4  
Principles of Chemistry I (CHEM 105)
or Principles of Chemistry for Engineers (CHEM 111)
3  
Independent Activity (PHED 100)0 - 10  
SAGES First Seminar4  
Genes, Evolution and Ecology (BIOL 214)
& Genes, Evolution and Ecology Lab (BIOL 214L)
4  
Math and Calculus Applications for Life, Managerial, and Social Sci II (MATH 126)  4
Principles of Chemistry II (CHEM 106)
or Chemistry of Materials (ENGR 145)
  3
Principles of Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 113)  2
SAGES University Seminar I  3
Cells and Proteins (BIOL 215)
& Cells and Proteins Laboratory (BIOL 215L)
  4
Independent Activity (PHED 100)  0-10
Year Total: 15-25 16-26
 
SophomoreUnits
FallSpring
Introductory Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 223)a3  
Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory I (CHEM 233)2  
Introductory Physics I (PHYS 115)4  
GER Course3  
SAGES University Seminar II3  
Introductory Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 224)a  3
Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory II (CHEM 234)  2
Introductory Physics II (PHYS 116)  4
GER Course  3
Elective  3
Year Total: 15 15
 
JuniorUnits
FallSpring
Introductory Physical Chemistry I (CHEM 301)3  
Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science (BIOC 307)4  
GER Course3  
Electives6  
Molecular Biology (BIOC 308)  4
Approved Technical Electiveb  3
Research Project (BIOC 391)  3
Electives  6
Year Total: 16 16
 
SeniorUnits
FallSpring
Biochemistry SAGES Seminar (BIOC 373)3  
Research Project (BIOC 391)3  
Approved Biochemistry or Technical Electiveb3  
Electives6  
Senior Capstone Experience (BIOC 393)  3
Approved Biochem or Technical Electiveb  3
Electives  6-9
Year Total: 15 12-15
 
Total Units in Sequence:  120-143

Note: At least the 3 credits of undergraduate research, BIOC 391 Research Project, is minimally recommended for the Capstone. An additional 3 credits of BIOC 391 is highly recommended. Students should consult their academic advisers about the elective parts of the curriculum.

a

Selected students may be invited to take CHEM 323 Organic Chemistry I, CHEM 324 Organic Chemistry II.

b

One of the approved electives in Biochemistry taken must be either BIOC 312 Proteins and Enzymes or BIOC 334 Structural Biology.


Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Required Courses:
BIOC 307Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science4
BIOC 308Molecular Biology4
BIOC 312Proteins and Enzymes3
BIOC 334Structural Biology3
BIOC 373Biochemistry SAGES Seminar3
Approved Technical Elective in Biochemistry3
BIOC 393Senior Capstone Experience3
BIOL 214
214L
Genes, Evolution and Ecology
and Genes, Evolution and Ecology Lab
4
BIOL 215
215L
Cells and Proteins
and Cells and Proteins Laboratory
4
CHEM 105Principles of Chemistry I3-4
or CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry for Engineers
CHEM 106Principles of Chemistry II3-4
or ENGR 145 Chemistry of Materials
CHEM 113Principles of Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 223Introductory Organic Chemistry I3
or CHEM 323 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 224Introductory Organic Chemistry II3
or CHEM 324 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 301Introductory Physical Chemistry I3
or CHEM 335 Physical Chemistry I
CHEM 302Introductory Physical Chemistry II3
or CHEM 336 Physical Chemistry II
CHEM 233Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory I2
CHEM 234Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory II2
MATH 121Calculus for Science and Engineering I4
MATH 122Calculus for Science and Engineering II4
or MATH 124 Calculus II
MATH 223Calculus for Science and Engineering III3
or MATH 227 Calculus III
MATH 224Elementary Differential Equations3
or MATH 228 Differential Equations
PHYS 121General Physics I - Mechanics4
or PHYS 123 Physics and Frontiers I - Mechanics
PHYS 122General Physics II - Electricity and Magnetism4
or PHYS 124 Physics and Frontiers II - Electricity and Magnetism
PHYS 221Introduction to Modern Physics3
Statistics/data analysis elective3
Computational Methods in Physics
Basic Statistics for Engineering and Science
Statistics for Experimenters
or equivalent
Total Units83-85

BS Biochemistry, Sample Plan of Study

FreshmanUnits
FallSpring
Calculus for Science and Engineering I (MATH 121)4  
Principles of Chemistry I (CHEM 105)
or Principles of Chemistry for Engineers (CHEM 111)
3  
Independent Activity (PHED 100)0-10  
SAGES First Semester4  
Genes, Evolution and Ecology (BIOL 214)
& Genes, Evolution and Ecology Lab (BIOL 214L)
4  
Calculus for Science and Engineering II (MATH 122)  4
Principles of Chemistry II (CHEM 106)
or Chemistry of Materials (ENGR 145)
  3
Principles of Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 113)  2
SAGES University Seminar I  3
Cells and Proteins (BIOL 215)
& Cells and Proteins Laboratory (BIOL 215L)
  4
Independent Activity (PHED 100)  0 - 10
Year Total: 15-25 16-26
 
SophomoreUnits
FallSpring
Introductory Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 223)a3  
Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory I (CHEM 233)2  
Calculus for Science and Engineering III (MATH 223)3  
General Physics I - Mechanics (PHYS 121)b4  
GER Course3  
Introductory Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 224)a  3
Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory II (CHEM 234)  2
Elementary Differential Equations (MATH 224)  3
General Physics II - Electricity and Magnetism (PHYS 122)b  4
GER Course  3
Year Total: 15 15
 
JuniorUnits
FallSpring
Introductory Physical Chemistry I (CHEM 301)3  
Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science (BIOC 307)4  
SAGES University Seminar II3  
GER Course3  
GER Course or elective3  
Introductory Physical Chemistry II (CHEM 302)  3
Molecular Biology (BIOC 308)  4
Introduction to Modern Physics (PHYS 221)  3
Research Project (BIOC 391)  3
Elective  3
Year Total: 16 16
 
SeniorUnits
FallSpring
Proteins and Enzymes (BIOC 312)3  
Biochemistry SAGES Seminar (BIOC 373)3  
Research Project (BIOC 391)3  
Electives6  
Structural Biology (BIOC 334)  3
Senior Capstone Experience (BIOC 393)  3
Statistics/Data Analysis Elective  3
Computational Methods in Physics (PHYS 250)
Basic Statistics for Engineering and Science Using R Programming (STAT 312R)  3
Statistics for Experimenters (STAT 313) (or equiv)
Electives  6
Year Total: 15 18
 
Total Units in Sequence:  126-146

Note: At least the 3 credits of undergraduate research, BIOC 391 Research Project, is a prerequisite to the Capstone. An additional 3 credits of BIOC 391 is highly recommended. Students should consult their academic advisers about the elective parts of the curriculum.

a

Selected students may be invited to take CHEM 323 Organic Chemistry I, CHEM 324 Organic Chemistry II.

b

Selected students may be invited to take PHYS 123 Physics and Frontiers I - Mechanics, PHYS 124 Physics and Frontiers II - Electricity and Magnetism in place of PHYS 121 General Physics I - Mechanics, PHYS 122 General Physics II - Electricity and Magnetism.

Honors Program

Biochemistry majors who have excellent academic records may be admitted to the department’s Undergraduate Honors Program. To graduate with departmental honors in biochemistry, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

1.  A combined grade point average of at least 3.600

2.  A minimum of 6 credit hours of undergraduate research (BIOC 391) in one laboratory

3.  A BIOC 393 capstone report approved by the Undergraduate Education Committee of the department on the basis of the quality of the research, the written report, and an oral presentation. An acceptable report:

a.  Should follow a standard journal format

b.  Should demonstrate the student’s understanding of the research area, experimental techniques, goals and implications of the project

c.  Should show that the student has advanced his/her knowledge of the applicable techniques and the underlying scientific concepts.

4.  Using all or part of the capstone report, the student must be a co-author on a manuscript either submitted, in press or published in a peer reviewed journal.


Minor                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Required Courses:
BIOC 307Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science4
BIOC 308Molecular Biology4
One of the following: 3
Proteins and Enzymes
Structural Biology
Approved technical elective in biochemsitry3
Total Units14

Students may obtain credit for a mi­nor in biochemistry by completing one year of freshman chemistry (including laboratory), one year of organic chemis­try (including laboratory), two semesters of approved biology courses, and three semesters of didactic courses in biochem­istry.

Masters Degrees

The Biochemistry Department offers four Masters degrees.  The three-year Masters of Science in Biochemical Research provides training in laboratory research.  The two-year Masters of Science in Biochemistry provides students with advanced study in biochemistry and related fields.  Two other programs provide advanced study in biochemistry in conjunction with degrees in medicine (MD/MS) and law (JD/MS).

Prerequisites for admission into any of the Biochemistry Graduate Programs are one year each of chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, biology and physics. Applicants must also have a BA, BS or equivalent undergraduate degree. As part of the application process, students are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative and an advanced area test, usually biology, biochemistry or chemistry). Some students with otherwise excellent qualifications, but lacking some of the prerequisites may be conditionally admitted with the understanding that specified deficiencies will be made up within a stipulated time span. Students with advanced training (coursework, laboratory research, MS degree, etc.) may be given advanced standing.  Please visit the Department’s web page for details about the application process.

MS Biochemical Research

The program leading to the MS degree in biochemical research is uniquely designed to provide interested students with sufficient background and laboratory experience to enable them to function as senior research assistants and eventually as laboratory supervisors in university departments, research institutes, or industrial laboratories. Students in this three-year program receive a stipend, and tuition costs are covered by the department. The students pursue flexible and individually designed schedules, which prepare them for independent research projects in the second and third years of the program. The program simultaneously develops background knowledge and technical skills in modern biochemistry, which can be applied to several career paths. A more complete description of the program, admission policies, and financial aid is available from the departmental office.

The duration of the MSBR program is 33 months. Applicants who have been working as full time laboratory technicians may be granted 1 semester credit for one full year of work, and up to 2 semesters credit for two or more years of work. Credit for acceptable didactic coursework may be awarded up to a total of 14 hours. All decisions concerning advanced standing or transfer of credit will be made by the Graduate Education Committee following acceptance into the program and in consultation with the advisor. Courses taken to satisfy other degree requirements (i.e. BA or BS) may not be transferred for credit. A maximum of 6 hours can be transferred toward the course requirements, as set by the Graduate School. The program shall not be extended on the basis of work that needs to be completed in order to achieve a publishable result.

The degree follows Plan A for the Master’s degree. The program requires 36 hours of academic credit (including both research and didactic courses) as well as the writing and defense of a thesis. All courses must be at the 400 level or higher. The course credits include didactic courses (minimum of 12 hours of graded coursework), research (BIOC 601 Biochemical Research) and (BIOC 651 Thesis M.S.). BIOC 651 Thesis M.S. is taken only in the second and third years and requires an examination by the student’s pre-thesis committee and a written thesis. The student’s transcript will be annotated M.S. in Biochemical Research, including the title of the student’s independent project.

Prior to the student’s matriculation, she/he chooses an academic advisor. In general the selection process involves communication with those faculty members who have announced their interest in taking a Master’s student. In some cases the student may be invited to spend up to a week in the prospective advisor’s laboratory to facilitate the decision making process. In the early spring of the first year, pre-thesis committee of three faculty members (at least two of whom must be members of the Biochemistry faculty) is chosen by the student, in consultation with the advisor. In yearly meetings, this committee provides additional scientific expertise, offers support in overcoming research difficulties and evaluates the student’s progress in research and course work. 

MS Biochemical Research Plan of Study

First YearUnits
FallSpring
Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science (BIOC 407)4  
BIOC elective3  
Molecular Biology (BIOC 408)  4
BIOC elective  3
Year Total: 7 7
 
Second YearUnits
FallSpring
Proteins and Enzymes (BIOC 412)3  
Biochemical Research (BIOC 601)3  
Structural Biology (BIOC 434)  3
Biochemical Research (BIOC 601)  4
Master's Comprehensive Exam (EXAM 600)  1
Year Total: 6 8
 
Total Units in Sequence:  28

MS Biochemistry

The program leading to the MS degree in biochemistry is designed to provide students with knowledge of the latest advancements in biochemistry and related fields. It is intended for students who desire to pursue a career not directly involved with research, such as teaching, or various administrative positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Students typically enroll in three courses for each of four semesters.

The duration of the MSB program is 21 months; it follows the Plan B for the Master’s degree. The default advisor for this program is the Graduate Advisor, but another advisor may be selected. The student’s progress is monitored by the Biochemistry Graduate Advisor and by the Graduate Education Committee. The program requires 36 hours of academic credit of which 18 hours must be graded coursework. Although a “coursework Masters degree,” students in the program often take 6 to 12 hours of BIOC 601 (Biochemical Research) as part of their requirements. All courses must be at the 400 level; they must be on the list of approved electives, or be approved by the advisor.

MS Biochemistry Plan of Study

First YearUnits
FallSpring
Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science (BIOC 407)4  
BIOC elective3  
Molecular Biology (BIOC 408)  4
BIOC elective  3
Year Total: 7 7
 
Second YearUnits
FallSpring
Proteins and Enzymes (BIOC 412)3  
BIOC elective3  
Structural Biology (BIOC 434)  3
BIOC elective  4
Master's Comprehensive Exam (EXAM 600)  1
Year Total: 6 8
 
Total Units in Sequence:  28

MD/MS Biomedical Investigation-Biochemistry Track

The tracks proposed in the joint MD/MS program are derived from existing type B MS programs at the School of Medicine into a joint program with the MD, using a common template. The core activities for this degree include limited credit from the medical core curriculum, 3-6 graduate courses in specific tracks, participation in a common seminar series, scientific integrity training, and a requirement for a special problems project that reflects a full year of research (18 hours of 601 non-graded credits) culminating in a written report and examination. This program will require 5 years overall to complete the requirements for both degrees. Students who wish to join the MD/MS program may apply to the Program after arriving at the University any time prior to Fall of their second year of medical school. For more information, please see MD Dual Degrees

The Biochemistry track is designed to provide students with knowledge of the latest advances in biochemistry and related fields. It is also appreciated that a number of courses offered by other departments may be considered “biochemistry” in the broader sense.Depending on the research project, it may be appropriate for the student to substitute one of the courses below in lieu of one of the biochemistry electives.Should this be the case, the student must receive permission from the Graduate Program Advisor for this substitution prior to registering for the course.

Students in the Biochemistry track must complete:

IBIS 401Integrated Biological Sciences I3
IBIS 402Integrated Biological Sciences II3
BIOC 412Proteins and Enzymes3
or BIOC 434 Structural Biology
Electives in Biochemistry (graded)6
BIOC 601Biochemical Research18
IBMS 500On Being a Professional Scientist: The Responsible Conduct of Research1
IBIS 600Exam in Biomedical Investigation0

JD/MS in Biochemistry

This program allows students admitted to the School of Law an opportunity to pursue a master of science degree in Biochemistry as part of an additional year of study. Such training adds expertise to students who anticipate careers in patent law or in areas related to biotechnology or pharmaceutical research. Please see the separate listing in the publication materials provided by the School of Law on this program.

Entrance into this program is achieved first by acceptance into the CWRU School of Law. Upon acceptance, students can then apply to the Biochemistry program for admission into the JD/MS program. As a result of participating in the dual degree program, students complete 12 fewer hours of law school coursework than they would if they were in the JD program alone. The Department of Biochemistry accepts 9 hours of law school classwork in courses dealing with science issues, in place of 9 credits of other elective work. Thus, the student will take a total of 27 hours of Biochemistry coursework of which at least 12 hours must be letter graded.

Dual degree students are advised concerning matters related to the JD degree by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Law. In addition, dual degree students are granted priority registration for upper level courses, ensuring that they will be able to accommodate their scheduling needs in obtaining required classes. Dual degree students are advised concerning matters related to the MS in Biochemistry by a JD/MS Advisor as designated by the Graduate Education Committee of the Department of Biochemistry.

JD/MS in Biochemistry (plan B)

Because most students will apply for the JD/MS in Biochemistry Program after beginning Law School, the sample schedule below begins with Biochemistry coursework in the third year. However, it should be evident that Biochemistry coursework could be taken in any of the last three years and with a variety of combinations of Law courses. Schedules will be individually worked out with the Biochemistry Graduate Advisor to suit the student’s needs and interests.

Coursework Oriented

First YearUnits
FallSpring
Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science (BIOC 407)4  
BIOC elective3  
Molecular Biology (BIOC 408)  4
BIOC elective  3
Year Total: 7 7
 
Second YearUnits
FallSpring
Proteins and Enzymes (BIOC 412)3  
BIOC elective3  
Structural Biology (BIOC 434)  3
BIOC elective  4
Master's Comprehensive Exam (EXAM 600)  1
Year Total: 6 8
 
Total Units in Sequence:  28

Totals: 27 hr graded coursework, 1 hour EXAM 600

JD/MS in Biochemistry

Research Oriented

Totals: 17 hr graded coursework, 10 hr research (BIOC 601 Biochemical Research), 1 hour EXAM 600 Master's Comprehensive Exam

It is also possible to take some coursework or do research during the summer. However, most students have chosen to use this time for legal internships.

MBA/Master of Science in Biochemistry (MS) Dual-Degree Program

The dual MBA/MS in Biochemistry degree is offered by the School of Medicine and the Weatherhead School of Management to provide the skills and knowledge necessary for those who wish to attain the following goals:

  • Learn breakthrough business concepts from the people who invented them.
  • Participate in the fields of medical research and management as well as give students an opportunity to develop expertise in areas of substantive interest.
  • Realize cross-disciplinary collaboration that prepares practitioners to adapt to the changing healthcare environment and create positive, sustainable change for their organizations.
  • Increase job opportunities that are at the intersection of translational science and business. 

MBA/MS in Biochemistry candidates must complete separate applications and be admitted separately to each program. Once students have been admitted, they will consult with the Department of Biochemistry Department Liaison and Associate Dean for MBA Programs at the Weatherhead School of Management to determine their appropriate course of study.

To learn more, contact Weatherhead at 216.368.2030 or wsomadmissions@case.edu, or the School of Medicine at 216-368-3578 or wcm2@case.edu

MA in Patent Law/ MS in Biochemistry Dual-Degree Program

As a companion to the JD/MS in Biochemistry dual degree program, a new dual degree is currently “under construction”.  This program takes advantage of the new Law School program, the MA in Patent Law recently approved by the University and Board of Reagents.  As part of an effort to add a competitive advantage to students pursuing a career in patent law, the dual degree program adds additional scientific principles to the students background to better prepare them for the cutting edge challenges of medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and bioinformatics that will be developing over the next 20 years.  Although the dual degree can be completed in 2 years, it is anticipated that students will most often choose the 18 month option which yields both degrees in less time and at a reduced cost to the student.  Further details can be obtained from either the Law School (Professor Craig Nard) or the School of Medicine (Professor William Merrick).

 

PhD Biochemistry

The aim of the PhD in biochemistry program is to prepare students for careers in teaching and research in biochemistry. The emphasis of the doctoral program is on research culminating in the completion of an original independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member in the biochemistry program. The research areas in the department are described later in this section. In addition to the research activities, graduate students participate in formal courses both within and outside the department, formal and informal seminars, and discussions of current literature. Although students choose from the various tracks within the department, all are broadly trained in modern aspects of biochemistry and become familiar with techniques and literature in a variety of areas. Many collaborative projects with other departments also are available to broaden the spectrum of training offered. Most students begin with an integrated curriculum in cellular and molecular biology in addition to specialized courses in biochemistry. Admissions to the Biochemistry program may be obtained through the Biomedical Sciences Training Program, by direct admission to the department or via the MSTP program. 

Prerequisites for admission into the Biochemistry PhD Program include one year each of chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, biology and physics.  Applicants must also have a BA, BS or equivalent undergraduate degree.  Students must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination and may submit scores from an advanced area test, usually in biology, biochemistry or chemistry.  Some students with otherwise excellent qualifications, but lacking some of the prerequisites may be conditionally admitted with the understanding that specified deficiencies will be made up within a stipulated time span.   Please visit the Department’s web page for details about the application process.

To earn a PhD in Biochemistry, a student must complete rotations in at least three laboratories followed by selection of a research advisor, and complete Core and Elective coursework including responsible conduct of research as described in the Course of Study, below. Students who previously completed relevant coursework, (for example, with a MS) may petition to complete alternative courses.

In addition, each PhD student must successfully complete a qualifier examination for advancement to candidacy in the form of a short grant proposal with oral defense. The qualifier is generally completed in the summer after year two. During the dissertation period, students are expected to meet twice a year with the thesis committee, present seminars in the department, and fulfill journal publication requirements. Throughout the doctoral training, students are expected to be enthusiastic participants in seminars, journal clubs, and research meetings in the lab and program.  Completion of the PhD degree will require 36 hours of coursework (24 hours of which are graded) and 18 hours of BIOC 701 Dissertation Ph.D..

 PhD Biochemistry Plan of Study

§

 Please also see Graduate Studies Academic Requirements for Doctoral Degrees


First YearUnits
FallSpring
Cell Biology I (CBIO 453)4  
Molecular Biology I (CBIO 455)4  
Biochemical Research (BIOC 601)
or Research Rotation in Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP 400)
or Research Rotation in Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP 400)
1  
Structural Biology (BIOC 434)  3
BIOC Elective  3
Biochemical Research (BIOC 601)  3
On Being a Professional Scientist: The Responsible Conduct of Research (IBMS 500)  1
Year Total: 9 10
 
Second YearUnits
FallSpring
Biochemistry Seminar I (BIOC 611)1  
BIOC Elective3  
Biochemical Research (BIOC 601) (601 for pre-candidacy, 701 for post-candidacy)
or Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)
5  
Biochemistry Seminar II (BIOC 612)  1
BIOC Elective  3
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)  3
Proposition I (BIOC 641)  2
Year Total: 9 9
 
Third YearUnits
FallSpring
BIOC Elective3  
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)6  
BIOC Elective  3
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)  6
Year Total: 9 9
 
Fourth YearUnits
FallSpring
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)1-9  
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)  1-9
Year Total: 1-9 1-9
 
Fifth YearUnits
FallSpring
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)1-9  
Dissertation Ph.D. (BIOC 701)  1-9
Year Total: 1-9 1-9
 
Total Units in Sequence:  59-91

Courses

BIOC 307. Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science. 4 Units.

Overview of the macromolecules and small molecules key to all living systems. Topics include: protein structure and function; enzyme mechanisms, kinetics and regulation; membrane structure and function; bioenergetics; hormone action; intermediary metabolism, including pathways and regulation of carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid, and nucleotide biosynthesis and breakdown. The material is presented to build links to human biology and human disease. One semester of biology is recommended. Offered as BIOC 307, BIOC 407, and BIOL 407. Prereq: CHEM 223 and CHEM 224.

BIOC 308. Molecular Biology. 4 Units.

An examination of the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA to protein. Topics include: nucleic acid structure; mechanisms and control of DNA, RNA, and protein biosynthesis; recombinant DNA; and mRNA processing and modification. Where possible, eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems are compared. Special topics include yeast as a model organism, molecular biology of cancer, and molecular biology of the cell cycle. Current literature is discussed briefly as an introduction to techniques of genetic engineering. Recommended preparation: BIOC 307. Offered as BIOC 308, BIOL 308, BIOC 408, and BIOL 408. Prereq: CHEM 223, BIOL 214, and BIOL 215.

BIOC 312. Proteins and Enzymes. 3 Units.

Aspects of protein and nucleic acid function and interactions are discussed, including binding properties, protein-nucleic acid interactions, kinetics and mechanism of proteins and enzymes, and macromolecular machines. Recommended Preparation: CHEM 301. Offered as BIOC 312 and BIOC 412. Prereq: BIOC 307.

BIOC 315. Nuclear Receptors in Health and Disease. 3 Units.

This course focuses on hormone-gene interactions mediated by the ligand-inducible transcription factors termed nuclear hormone receptors. The class will address the mechanisms of action, regulatory features, and biological activities of several nuclear receptors. The usage of nuclear receptors as therapeutic targets in disease states such as cancer, inflammation, and diabetes will also be discussed. The course aims to teach students to critically evaluate primary literature relevant to nuclear hormone receptors biology, and to reinforce presentation/discussion skills. Grades for undergraduates will be based on midterm, final exam; grades for graduates will be based on midterm, final exam, and presentation of a recently published research article related to the role of nuclear receptors in health and disease. Offered as PHRM 315, BIOC 315, PHRM 415 and BIOC 415.

BIOC 334. Structural Biology. 3 Units.

Introduces basic chemical properties of proteins and discusses the physical forces that determine protein structure. Topics include: the elucidation of protein structure by NMR and by X-ray crystallographic methods; the acquisition of protein structures from data bases; and simple modeling experiments based on protein structures. Offered as BIOC 334, BIOL 334, BIOC 434, and BIOL 434. Prereq: BIOC 307.

BIOC 354. Biochemistry and Biology of RNA. 3 Units.

Systematic overview of RNA biochemistry and biology. Course provides solid foundation for understanding processes of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Topics include: RNA structure, RNA types, RNA-protein interactions, eukaryotic RNA metabolism including mRNA processing, ribosome biogenesis, tRNA metabolism, miRNA processing and function, bacterial RNA metabolism, transcriptomics. BIOC 454 requires an additional research proposal. Recommended preparation for BIOC 354: Undergraduate Biology (1 semester minimum), equivalents of CHEM 301, BIOC 307 or 308, CHEM 223, CHEM 224. Offered as BIOC 354 and BIOC 454. Prereq: CHEM 223, CHEM 224.

BIOC 373. Biochemistry SAGES Seminar. 3 Units.

Discussion of current topics in biochemical research using readings from the scientific literature. The goals are for the student: 1) to discuss and critically analyze selections from the biochemical literature; 2) to gain a broader understanding of important topics not formally covered in the didactic courses; and 3) to learn to write in the style of journals in the field of biochemistry. Counts as SAGES Departmental Seminar. Prereq: BIOC 307 and BIOC 308. Restricted to majors in Biochemistry.

BIOC 391. Research Project. 1 - 9 Unit.

(Credit as arranged.) Offered on a pass/fail basis only. Maximum 9 hours total credit.

BIOC 393. Senior Capstone Experience. 3 Units.

Students will complete their Capstone Projects, begun in BIOC 391. Pertinent research activities will depend on the nature of the student's project. The student will meet regularly with their Capstone adviser, at least twice monthly, to provide progress reports, discuss the project, and for critique and guidance. By the end of this course, the student will have completed their SAGES Senior Capstone research project, written a project report in the form of a manuscript, and presented their project reports orally in the department and at the Senior Capstone Fair, or its equivalent. Counts as SAGES Senior Capstone. Prereq: BIOC 307 and BIOC 308.

BIOC 407. Introduction to Biochemistry: From Molecules To Medical Science. 4 Units.

Overview of the macromolecules and small molecules key to all living systems. Topics include: protein structure and function; enzyme mechanisms, kinetics and regulation; membrane structure and function; bioenergetics; hormone action; intermediary metabolism, including pathways and regulation of carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid, and nucleotide biosynthesis and breakdown. The material is presented to build links to human biology and human disease. One semester of biology is recommended. Offered as BIOC 307, BIOC 407, and BIOL 407. Prereq: CHEM 223 and CHEM 224.

BIOC 408. Molecular Biology. 4 Units.

An examination of the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA to protein. Topics include: nucleic acid structure; mechanisms and control of DNA, RNA, and protein biosynthesis; recombinant DNA; and mRNA processing and modification. Where possible, eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems are compared. Special topics include yeast as a model organism, molecular biology of cancer, and molecular biology of the cell cycle. Current literature is discussed briefly as an introduction to techniques of genetic engineering. Recommended preparation: BIOC 307. Offered as BIOC 308, BIOL 308, BIOC 408, and BIOL 408.

BIOC 412. Proteins and Enzymes. 3 Units.

Aspects of protein and nucleic acid function and interactions are discussed, including binding properties, protein-nucleic acid interactions, kinetics and mechanism of proteins and enzymes, and macromolecular machines. Recommended Preparation: CHEM 301. Offered as BIOC 312 and BIOC 412.

BIOC 413. Advanced Topics in Molecular and Biochemical Research Ethics. 0 Units.

This course offers continuing education in responsible conduct of research for advanced graduate students. The course will cover the nine federally defined responsible conduct of research (RCR) areas through a combination of lectures, on-line course material and small group discussions. Six 2-hour meetings per semester are planned. Maximum enrollment of 15 students with preference to graduate students in the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, the Department of Biochemistry, and trainees of the Cell and Molecular Biology Training Grant. Offered as: BIOC 413, MBIO 413.

BIOC 415. Nuclear Receptors in Health and Disease. 3 Units.

This course focuses on hormone-gene interactions mediated by the ligand-inducible transcription factors termed nuclear hormone receptors. The class will address the mechanisms of action, regulatory features, and biological activities of several nuclear receptors. The usage of nuclear receptors as therapeutic targets in disease states such as cancer, inflammation, and diabetes will also be discussed. The course aims to teach students to critically evaluate primary literature relevant to nuclear hormone receptors biology, and to reinforce presentation/discussion skills. Grades for undergraduates will be based on midterm, final exam; grades for graduates will be based on midterm, final exam, and presentation of a recently published research article related to the role of nuclear receptors in health and disease. Offered as PHRM 315, BIOC 315, PHRM 415 and BIOC 415.

BIOC 420. Current Topics in Cancer. 3 Units.

The concept of cancer hallmarks has provided a useful guiding principle in our understanding of the complexity of cancer. The hallmarks include sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, enabling replicative immortality, activating invasion and metastasis, inducing angiogenesis, resisting cell death, deregulating cellular energetics, avoiding immune destruction, tumor-promoting inflammation, and genome instability and mutation. The objectives of this course are to (1) examine the principles of some of these hallmarks, and (2) explore potential therapies developed based on these hallmarks of cancer. This is a student-driven and discussion-based graduate course. Students should have had some background on the related subjects and have read scientific papers in their prior coursework. Students will be called on to present and discuss experimental design, data and conclusions from assigned publications. There will be no exams or comprehensive papers but students will submit a one-page critique (strengths and weaknesses) of one of the assigned papers prior to each class meeting. The course will end with a full-day student-run symposium on topics to be decided jointly by students and the course director. Grades will be based on class participation, written critiques, and symposium presentations. Offered as BIOC 420, MBIO 420, MVIR 420, PATH 422, and PHRM 420. Prereq: CBIO 453 and CBIO 455.

BIOC 430. Advanced Methods in Structural Biology. 1 - 6 Unit.

The course is designed for graduate students who will be focusing on one or more methods of structural biology in their thesis project. This course is divided into 3-6 sections (depending on demand). The topics offered will include X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, optical spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, cryo-electron microscopy, and computational and design methods. Students can select one or more modules. Modules will be scheduled so that students can take all the offered modules in one semester. Each section is given in 5 weeks and is worth 1 credit. Each section covers one area of structural biology at an advanced level such that the student is prepared for graduate level research in that topic. Offered as BIOC 430, CHEM 430, PHOL 430, and PHRM 430.

BIOC 432. Current Topics in Vision Research. 3 Units.

Vision research is an exciting and multidisciplinary area that draws on the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, structural biology, neuroscience, and pathology. This graduate level course will provide the student with broad exposure to the most recent and relevant research currently being conducted in the field. Topics will cover a variety of diseases and fundamental biological processes occurring in the eye. Regions of the eye that will be discussed include the cornea, lens, and retina. Vision disorders discussed include age-related macular degeneration, retinal ciliopathies, and diabetic retinopathy. Instructors in the course are experts in their field and are members of the multidisciplinary visual sciences research community here at Case Western Reserve University. Students will be exposed to the experimental approaches and instrumentation currently being used in the laboratory and in clinical settings. Topics will be covered by traditional lectures, demonstrations in the laboratory and the clinic, and journal club presentations. Students will be graded on their performance in journal club presentations (40%), research proposal (40%), and class participation (20%). Offered as NEUR 432, PATH 432, PHRM 432 and BIOC 432.

BIOC 434. Structural Biology. 3 Units.

Introduces basic chemical properties of proteins and discusses the physical forces that determine protein structure. Topics include: the elucidation of protein structure by NMR and by X-ray crystallographic methods; the acquisition of protein structures from data bases; and simple modeling experiments based on protein structures. Offered as BIOC 334, BIOL 334, BIOC 434, and BIOL 434.

BIOC 452. Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism. 3 Units.

Mechanisms of regulation of pathways of intermediary metabolism; amplification of biochemical signals; substrate cycling and use of radioactive and stable isotopes to measure metabolic rates. Recommended preparation: BIOC 307 or equivalent. Offered as BIOC 452 and NTRN 452.

BIOC 454. Biochemistry and Biology of RNA. 3 Units.

Systematic overview of RNA biochemistry and biology. Course provides solid foundation for understanding processes of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Topics include: RNA structure, RNA types, RNA-protein interactions, eukaryotic RNA metabolism including mRNA processing, ribosome biogenesis, tRNA metabolism, miRNA processing and function, bacterial RNA metabolism, transcriptomics. BIOC 454 requires an additional research proposal. Recommended preparation for BIOC 354: Undergraduate Biology (1 semester minimum), equivalents of CHEM 301, BIOC 307 or 308, CHEM 223, CHEM 224. Offered as BIOC 354 and BIOC 454.

BIOC 460. Introduction to Microarrays. 3 Units.

Microarray technology is an exciting new technique that is used to analyze gene expression in a wide variety of organisms. The goal of this course is to give participants a hands-on introduction to this technology. The course is intended for individuals who are preparing to use this technique, including students, fellows, and other investigators. This is a hands-on computer-based course, which will enable participants to conduct meaningful analyses of microarray data. Participants will gain an understanding of the principles underlying microarray technologies, including: theory of sample preparation, sample processing on microarrays, familiarity with the use of Affymetrix Microarray Suite software and generation of data sets. Transferring data among software packages to manipulate data will also be discussed. Importation of data into other software (GeneSpring and DecisionSite) will enable participants to mine the data for higher-order patterns. Participants will learn about the rationale behind the choice of normalization and data filtering strategies, distance metrics, use of appropriate clustering choices such as K-means, Hierarchical, and Self Organizing Maps. Course Offered as BIOC 460, PATH 460, CNCR 460. Prereq: CBIO 455.

BIOC 475. Protein Biophysics. 3 Units.

This course focuses on in-depth understanding of the molecular biophysics of proteins. Structural, thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of protein function and structure-function relationships will be considered at the advanced conceptual level. The application of these theoretical frameworks will be illustrated with examples from the literature and integration of biophysical knowledge with description at the cellular and systems level. The format consists of lectures, problem sets, and student presentations. A special emphasis will be placed on discussion of original publications. Offered as BIOC 475, CHEM 475, PHOL 475, PHRM 475, and NEUR 475.

BIOC 476. Cellular Biophysics. 4 Units.

This course focuses on a quantitative understanding of cellular processes. It is designed for students who feel comfortable with and are interested in analytical and quantitative approaches to cell biology and cell physiology. Selected topics in cellular biophysics will be covered in depth. Topics include theory of electrical and optical signal processing used in cell physiology, thermodynamics and kinetics of enzyme and transport reactions, single ion channel kinetics and excitability, mechanotransduction, and transport across polarized cell layers. The format consists of lectures, problem sets, computer simulations, and discussion of original publications. The relevant biological background of topics will be provided appropriate for non-biology science majors. Offered as BIOC 476, NEUR 477, PHOL 476, PHRM 476.

BIOC 519. Molecular Biology of RNA. 3 Units.

Selected topics regarding editing, enzymatic function, splicing, and structure of RNA. Offered as BIOC 519, CLBY 519, and MBIO 519.

BIOC 528. Contemporary Approaches to Drug Discovery. 3 Units.

This course is designed to teach the students how lead compounds are discovered, optimized, and processed through clinical trials for FDA approval. Topics will include: medicinal chemistry, parallel synthesis, drug delivery and devices, drug administration and pharmacokinetics, and clinical trials. A special emphasis will be placed on describing how structural biology is used for in silico screening and lead optimization. This component will include hands-on experience in using sophisticated drug discovery software to conduct in silico screening and the development of drug libraries. Each student will conduct a course project involving in silico screening and lead optimization against known drug targets, followed by the drafting of an inventory disclosure. Another important aspect of this course will be inclusion of guest lectures by industrial leaders who describe examples of success stories of drug development. Offered as BIOC 528, PHOL 528, and PHRM 528.

BIOC 599. RNA Structure and Function. 3 Units.

This course will cover fundamental aspects of modern RNA biology with emphasis on the interplay of three dimensional structure of nucleic acids and their function. The main focus of the course is on the recent discoveries that indicate a prominent role of RNA as a major regulator of cellular function. Topics discussed will include an introduction to RNA structure, folding and dynamics, RNA/RNA and RNA-protein interactions, and role of RNA in catalysis of biological reactions in ribosome and the role of other catalytic RNAs in tRNA biogenesis, pre-mRNA splicing, and viral replication. The course also covers the recently discovered RNA regulatory switches, large noncoding regulatory RNAs, and the role of RNA in human diseases and novel, RNA-based therapeutics. Offered as BIOC 599, CLBY 599, and MBIO 599.

BIOC 601. Biochemical Research. 1 - 18 Unit.

Credit as arranged.

BIOC 611. Biochemistry Seminar I. 1 Unit.

Student presentations of topics from the current scientific literature unrelated to the student's research project. Participants are required to present a seminar.

BIOC 612. Biochemistry Seminar II. 1 Unit.

Discussion of current research.

BIOC 617. Special Topics in Biochemistry. 3 Units.

Special topics courses on areas of current interest in biochemistry.

BIOC 618. Special Topics in Biochemistry. 3 Units.

Special topics courses on areas of current interest in biochemistry.

BIOC 641. Proposition I. 2 Units.

Design of research proposal.

BIOC 651. Thesis M.S.. 1 - 6 Unit.

(Credit as arranged.)

BIOC 701. Dissertation Ph.D.. 1 - 9 Unit.

(Credit as arranged.) Prereq: Predoctoral research consent or advanced to Ph.D. candidacy milestone.