CHEM 303 - Introductory Bioinorganic Chemistry: The Role of Metals in Life
Section: 100
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Chemistry (CHEM)
Department: LSA Chemistry
Requirements & Distribution:
Credit Exclusions:
A student can receive credit for only one of CHEM 302 or CHEM 303.
Advisory Prerequisites:
CHEM 210/211 or 215/216.
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:

The class will serve as an alternative to the CHEM 302 requirement for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors. Fundamental principles of inorganic chemistry will be taught in the context of the role of metals in biological systems, with special emphasis on how this knowledge relates to commonly known phenomena.

The University of Michigan is a center for the research on the role of metals in biology, health, and the environment. Several faculty in the Department of Chemistry have world-class research programs in this area, but also faculty in Biophysics, Biological Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Pharmacology, the Life Science Institute, etc., are devoted to this topic. This is a very good platform to offer undergraduate students hands-on research experience at the University of Michigan. CHEM 303 is designed to satisfy the requirement for an advanced undergraduate class in Inorganic Chemistry, and is aimed at undergraduate students in their Sophomore or early Junior year. The class serves as an alternative to CHEM 302, but a special emphasis is put on the role of metals in biological systems, and the connection between fundamental (classroom) knowledge of biological processes with respect to metals, and their relation to commonly known phenomena, for example diseases, pollution, alternative energies, evolution, industrial processes, etc. This is an area of primary importance for health, life, and the environment, and hence, society as a whole. Despite the fundamental role of metals for life, this fascinating topic is clearly underrepresented in most undergraduate curricula. The topics of this course include metal homeostasis and related genetic diseases, the vital roles of metals in proteins, gene transcription, and regulation of cell function, diseases related to protein misfolding (neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer, Creutzfeldt-Jakob), heavy metal pollution in the environment (lead, mercury), and metals in medicine.

After completion of this class, the undergraduate students will be advanced in the area of metals in biology, and ready for practical research experience in the following term. My goal is that a significant number of the students will be inspired through this course to work on related research projects. A good mechanism is to first form an interest group of faculty for the area of Metals in Life. Since these faculty belong to very different research areas spanning from Chemistry and Biology all the way to Pharmacy, Medicine, and Engineering, it is ensured that the students will have a wide and interdisciplinary group of faculty to talk to.

A further mechanism will be incorporated to establish relationships between undergraduate students and faculty participating in the ‘The Role of Metals in Life’ program early on in phase 1. For this purpose, the homework assignment for the students will be to write a paper about 2 – 3 research publications of a participating faculty. The students will first read the publications, and then interview the corresponding faculty to obtain more background knowledge, have questions answered, and discuss the content of the publications in detail. This will make the students familiar with the research of participating faculty and allow them to establish a relationship.

Intended Audience: Chemistry and Biochemistry concentrators, undergraduates interested in Biophysics or pre-Medical

CHEM 303 - Introductory Bioinorganic Chemistry: The Role of Metals in Life
Schedule Listing
100 (LEC)
MWF 11:00AM - 12:00PM
102 (DIS)
M 10:00AM - 11:00AM
103 (DIS)
W 1:00PM - 2:00PM
104 (DIS)
W 9:00AM - 10:00AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780321811059
Inorganic chemistry. Fifth edit 2014
ISBN: 9780444537829
Biological inorganic chemistry : a new introduction to molecular structure and function, Author: Robert R. Crichton., Publisher: Elsevier 2nd ed. 2012
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