BMB/Bi/Ch 174 Course Description Spring 2017

Course content: This course will focus on specific topics that can incorporate broadly the lessons, concepts and techniques learned in BMB170 and BMB173. The goal is to reinforce these concepts and techniques and synthesize them through real case studies of macromolecular assemblies in biology. The emphasis will be on the key experiments that lead to our current understanding of the biological system under investigation. This year, four topics have been chosen: regulated proteolysis, statistical mechanics, chaperones, nuclear transport and the NPC.

Course prerequisites: BMB/Bi/Ch 170, 173 and 174 are intended as a year-long 'core' sequence. It is therefore expected that all students participating in this class have finished BMB/Bi/Ch 170 and 173. Students who wish to enroll in this class, but who have not attended the first two quarters of this series, will need permission from the course instructor.

Reading material:Most of the lectures will be based on literature. Each lecturer will assign 2-4 research articles as required reading.

Class web page:

Homework/Discussion: There will be one problem set for each topic. These problem sets will become available online as soon as the lectures on each topic begin. You may use lecture notes, the reading material, and other resources to complete problem sets. Problem sets on each topic should be turned in on specified dates in the course syllabus. Late homework will not be accepted without a medical excuse.

Here is a re-statement of Caltech's collaboration policy. 'Collaboration' refers to general discussions and brainstorms about the course material, papers, topics and problems, and are allowed at the beginning of receiving / working on a problem set. Nevertheless, the written work must be done independently by each student. Copying others' work is not permitted. Comparing with other's answers and then rewording them as your answer are not allowed.

An additional discussion session will be held during the last lecture for each topic, in which students and faculty together discuss the selected articles in a Q & A format. Students should bring all the articles to the discussion and be prepared to discuss the work and answer questions.

Midterm: The midterm is a 1-page essay that requires each student to choose a topic of interest relevant to the structure and function of macromolecules or molecular assemblies. The topic must be out-of-field, i.e., it is a subject that you have not, are not, and will not be working on. Explain an outstanding question in the field, analyze the current models and the evidences / arguments supporting each. This serves as the basis to generate your final proposal. Midterm is due May 11, at 6 pm. Send the midterm essay to

Final: The final will be an ‘out-of-field’ research proposal based on the topic you choose in the mid-term assay. Describe a series of experimental designs that address an outstanding question in the field and distinguishes / resolves disparate models. The proposal is due June 6, at 6 pm. Send the final proposal to

Students will also form study sessions to review, discuss, and score the proposals on June 9th. Note that this is an important part of the learning process, and the quality of your peer review on the proposal also counts into the grade.

Grading:The course is offered for a letter grade only. The problem sets will be worth 40%, literature discussion 10%, the midterm 15%, the final 30%, and the quality of peer review 5%.

TA Contact Information

TA Office email Phone
Chengcheng Fan Broad 348 x8392 cell
Zhi Yang Broad 331E x8351 cell

Office Hours by date

Date(Day) Time TA Location
4/24(M), 5/10(W), 5/17(W), 5/31(W) 6:00–8:00 PM Zhi Yang 300 Broad
4/12(W), 5/8(M), 5/10(W) 6:00–8:00 PM Chengcheng Fan 300 Broad

Additional TA office hours can be arranged by appointment.

Last modified April 3, 2017