Structural and Chemical Biology

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Faculty Contacts: Kevin Corbett & Jin Zhang

The Structural and Chemical Biology Training Area is a unique joint effort between several departments at UC San Diego: the Departments of Cellular & Molecular Medicine  and Pharmacology in the UC San Diego Medical School, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on the UC San Diego main campus.

The overall goal of this training area is to provide students with a modern perspective on the interactions between macromolecules and small molecules, and how these interactions can be visualized, modeled, and manipulated.

Structural biology faculty associated with the training area study a range of topics, from the fundamental mechanisms of chromosome segregation, chromatin remodeling, and host-pathogen interactions, to methods development in modeling protein structure and dynamics. Chemical biology faculty are similarly diverse, with topics of study ranging from the development of small-molecule probes to track molecules in ling cells to in silico explorations of protein-drug interactions. A guiding principle throughout their research is the use of cutting-edge technology and multi-disciplinary approaches to fundamentally address major human health issues.

The training area is tightly integrated with several other training initiatives on campus. The Molecular Biophysics and Chemical Biology Training Grants provide funded students with specialized training and a set of like-minded colleagues in their chosen research area. The multidisciplinary qBio Ph.D. specialization is open to all graduate students in the BMS program. Finally, the joint UCSD-Scripps Research Institute Visible Molecular Cell Consortium is a new effort to model and visualize the dynamics of cellular phenomena across scales, an effort that is possible because of the unique confluence of researchers and facilities in the UC San Diego area (including the San Diego Supercomputer Center, home to the RCSB Protein Data Bank).

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Find BMS Faculty in Structural and Chemical Biology

Required coursework for BMS students

BMS students take a core curriculum that provides the foundation to allow them to specialize in any of the offered training areas. In the Fall quarter, "Molecules to Organisms" (BIOM 200A&B) provides a systematic approach to current Biomedical Research, using analysis of selected topics to focus on the process of research discovery and its critical evaluation. "Seminar in Biomedical Research" (BIOM 201) includes attendance at one of the UC San Diego seminar series and is designed to provoke critical discussion of the presented findings and scientific approaches in a small group setting. BMS students also take short courses in statistical analysis of data (BIOM 285) and ethics in research (BIOM 219) in the second or third quarter of their first year.

Specialized Coursework

Core Training Area Courses 

Quarter Course Number Course Title Units
W CHEM 213A Structural Biophysics of Macromolecules 4
S CHEM 213B Biophysical Chemistry of Macromolecules 4
  CHEM 216 Chemical Biology 4

Elective Courses (to fulfill 15 unit BMS elective requirement)

Quarter Course Number Course Title Units
  CHEM 204 Introduction to X-ray Crystallography 4
  CHEM 207 Protein NMR 4
  CHEM 215 Modeling Biological Macromolecules 4
CHEM 257 Bioorganic and Natural Products Chemistry 4
CHEM 265 3D Electron Microscopy of Macromolecules 4
BIOM 233 Structural Biology in Cell Signaling and Drug Discovery 2
BIOM 254 Molecular and Cell Biology 3
BIOM 264 Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease 2

Additional Courses:

Molecular Biophysics Research Discussion and Journal Club (CHEM 251; 1 unit)

Students meet biweekly to present their research (first Tuesday of the month) and read and critically analyze recent papers in the field (third Tuesday of the month).