BBSP Training in Chemical Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology: The Chemistry department at UNC has outstanding research programs underway in all areas of modern Chemistry. Chemistry also is a focal point for interdisciplinary research efforts on campus in the biological and materials sciences. The Departmental graduate training program provides a collegial, interdisciplinary, and unifying home for students interested in chemical biology, biochemistry and biotechnology. The overarching goal of the doctoral program is to train students broadly for leadership roles in academia and industry.
General Program of Study
The overall program is designed to be highly flexible 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. The Department is proud of its record of graduating the vast majority of its students within five years. Over five years, the general program is:
Class work, rotations, teaching, selection of a research mentor.
Begin the research experience, pass a written qualifying exam, and write and defend a Prospectus on the topic of your proposed doctoral research project.
Become intensively involved in research and present a seminar on your doctoral research project.
By year five:
Publish, write a doctoral dissertation, and present a public seminar of your research results.
Course selection is flexible and is developed in consultation with a faculty advisor with the goal of meeting the training needs of the individual student. In general, the Department emphasizes small enrollment didactic and literature-based courses. A starting point in the first year is the following:
Fall: CHEM 733-1: Advances in Macromolecular Structure and Function (3)
Together, these three courses constitute a three hour class:
CHEM 438: Macromolecular Structure and Human Disease (1)
BIOC 651: Macromolecular Structure and Dynamics (1)
BIOC 652: Macromolecular Equilibria (1)
BBSP 902: Seminar in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (3)
BBSP 901: Research Rotation in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (1)
Spring: CHEM 733-2: Chemical Biology (2)
Elective courses selected from, but not limited to, the following (2-4 hrs):
CHEM 734: Biomolecular NMR (1-3)
CHEM 735: Macromolecular Interactions (1)
CHEM 736: Macromolecular Crystallography (2)
BIOC 664: Macromolecular Spectroscopy (1)
BIOC 700: Current Topics in RNA Structure (2)
BBSP 902: Seminar in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (3)
BBSP 901: Research Rotation in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2)
The written qualifying exam is held in September of year two, with a second opportunity in January if needed. The exam is taken on a single day. The broad outline and background literature for these questions are provided approximately one month in advance. There are three questions, one Current Topic, plus two Advanced Topics in Chemical Biology and Biochemistry.
The oral and written Prospectus exam is completed by the end of the fourth semester and consists of a written dissertation proposal and an oral examination based on the proposal. The written proposal is 12 pages (not including the cover page and references) and is given to the committee two weeks prior to the formal exam. The student defends the proposal for his/her thesis committee of five professors. For the oral examination, students prepare a formal presentation of approximately 30 minutes. The committee asks questions to determine the feasibility of the proposed work, the general knowledge of the student in chemical biology and biochemistry, and whether the student has the skills and literature knowledge to accomplish the dissertation work in a timely fashion.
Chemistry Fall Graduate Courses
CHEM 430 INTRODUCTION TO BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY: (3) Fall. The study of cellular processes including catalysts, metabolism, bioenergetics, and biochemical genetics. The structure and function of biological macromolecules involved in these processes will be emphasized.
* CHEM 431 MACROMOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND METABOLISM: (3) Fall. Structure of DNA and methods in biotechnology; DNA replication and repair; RNA structure, synthesis, localization and transcriptional reputation; protein structure/function, biosynthesis, modification, localization, and degradation.
** CHEM 438 MACROMOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND HUMAN DISEASE: (1) Fall. Impact of protein and macromolecular structure on the development and treatment of human disease, with emphasis on recent results. Examination of relevant diseases, current treatments, and opportunities for improved therapies. First 5 weeks of the semester.
** CHEM 733-1 ADVANCES IN MACROMOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION: Fall (3). In-depth analysis of the structure-function relationships that govern protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions and enzyme function. Topics emphasize biological processes including replication, DNA repair, transcription, translation, RNA processing, assembly of protein complexes, and regulation of enzyme specificity. Course includes selections from both the current and classic literature that highlight the broad range of techniques used to study these processes.
Chemistry Spring Graduate Courses (partial)
CHEM 430 INTRODUCTION TO BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY: (3) Fall and Spring. The study of cellular processes including catalysts, metabolism, bioenergetics, and biochemical genetics. The structure and function of biological macromolecules involved in these processes will be emphasized.
* CHEM 432 METABOLIC CHEMISTRY & CELLULAR REGULATORY NETWORKS: (3) Spring. Biological membranes, membrane protein structure, transport phenomena; metabolic pathways, reaction themes, regulatory networks; metabolic transformations with carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides; regulatory networks, signal transduction.
** CHEM 733-2 CHEMICAL BIOLOGY: (2) Spring. Application of chemical principles and tools to study and manipulate biological systems; in-depth exploration of examples from the contemporary literature. Topics include new designs for the genetic code, drug design, chemical arrays, single molecule experiments, laboratory-based evolution, chemical sensors, and synthetic biology.
** Strongly recommended for BBSP students interested in Chemical Biology or Biochemistry
* Recommended for students who have not had significant prior coursework in Biochemistry