CHEM 326
Chemical and Synthetic Biology Spring 2024
Division III

Class Details

This course surveys the rapidly evolving, interdisciplinary and interconnected fields of chemical and synthetic biology. Chemical biology uses precise molecular-level manipulations to influence living systems from the bottom up, often by introducing components that are foreign to nature. Synthetic biology takes advantage of existing molecular technology and adopts an engineering mindset to reprogram life. Students will achieve literacy through immersion in chemical and synthetic biology. We will prioritize broad exposure to these fields, their vocabulary, culture, practices and ideas, through extensive engagement with the primary literature that expert practitioners use to teach themselves. The course model is instructor-facilitated peer-to-peer instruction, emphasizing skills important for autonomous and collaborative work in real-world scientific and professional fields. Topics we will cover include synthetic genomes, metabolic engineering, chemical synthesis and manipulation of biomacromolecules, directed evolution, and reworking of the central dogma of biology.
The Class: Format: seminar; two and a half hours of whole-class meetings and one hour of small-group meetings per week and online discussion using Perusall
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3138
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Course work includes consistent and intensive engagement with primary literature, discussions, weekly short presentations, formal and informal writing assignments, and an independent research project. The workload is designed to be distributed evenly throughout the semester. There are no exams. The course will be specifications-graded.
Prerequisites: CHEM/BIOL/BIMO 321 or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: seniors, then junior Chemistry and Biology majors with a demonstrated interest in chemical or synthetic biology
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: BIMO Interdepartmental Electives

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