CHEM 440 - Biophysics of Diseases
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Chemistry (CHEM)
Department: LSA Chemistry
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
BIOPHYS 370 or CHEM 370 or PHYSICS 370.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course deconstructs current and emerging diseases in terms of the malfunctioning of nucleic acids, proteins, and membranes and interactions between them. The diseases covered will include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (or Mad-Cow disease), HIV, a variety of bacterial infections, and other biological disorders. A variety of biophysical methods for dissecting diseases at the atomic level will be surveyed, including NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, single molecule imaging, and computational methods.

The course will emphasize how a basic biophysical understanding of diseases can guide the rational design of therapeutics, to include:

  • Infectious diseases
  • The Molecules of Life: Biophysical Principles
  • Viral Infections
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Health Conditions
  • Rational Approaches to Drug Discovery


  • Cellular Signaling in Health and Disease (Springer, 2009), Beckerman, Martin;
  • Methods in Molecular Biophysics: Structure, Dynamics, Function (Cambridge, 2007), Serdyuk, Igor N.; Zaccai, Nathan R.; Zaccai, Joseph.

Course Requirements:

Biweekly problem-solving homework assignments, assigned readings, weekly quizzes, two exams (20 pts each), one final paper (5-7 pages)that critically explores the biophysical basis for a student-chosen human disease and discusses how an in-depth biophysical understanding of the disease process can help in the rational design of therapeutics. Students will also present their final papers in class (30 pts ).

Intended Audience:

Upper level undergraduates and graduate students in the biological, biophysical, and biochemical sciences.

Class Format:

Lecture format 3 hpw

CHEM 440 - Biophysics of Diseases
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 8:30AM - 10:00AM
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