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A Research-Inspired Biochemistry Laboratory Module
This website gives educators complete access to all of the lab- and lecture-related materials for a research-inspired biochemistry laboratory course at MIT. The course, from HHMI Professor and Investigator Catherine Drennan, is designed to introduce students to standard biochemical techniques in the context of investigating a current and exciting research topic, acquired resistance to the cancer drug Gleevec. Techniques covered in the course include protein expression, purification, and gel analysis; polymerase chain reaction; site-directed mutagenesis; kinase activity assays; and protein structure viewing. The course is modular in nature and can be split into discrete activities for use by other schools looking to fill anywhere from 3 to 15 laboratory sessions. Web resources include detailed student and instructor laboratory manuals (organized for use as a comprehensive course or as selected sessions), equipment lists, and lecture slides and notes for accompanying background and technique lectures. Whether used in their entirety or as selected lab sessions, the activities provide students with a hands-on understanding of the impact of chemistry on human health and illuminate the need for improved cancer therapies. The developers say the activities also encourage students' own potential as the next generation of investigators.
HHMI Professor: Catherine L. Drennan, Ph.D.
Award Years: 2006
Summary: Catherine L. Drennan, Ph.D., is an HHMI Professor and an HHMI Investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose research uses X-ray crystallography to study the structure and function of metalloproteins. Her HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- A freshman chemistry course designed to excite undergraduates about chemistry and demonstrate the connection between chemistry and biological processes. This interdisciplinary course includes problem set questions that have biological relevance and touch on research conducted in the MIT chemistry department;
- A training program for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in interdisciplinary teaching that includes a week-long summer boot camp to show teaching assistants how to apply chemical principles to multiple fields and help them incorporate biological examples into their teaching of chemistry;
- The development of the MIT Undergraduate Biochemistry Association (MUBA), a group that helps compensate for the lack of a formal biochemistry program at MIT; and
- The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Chemical Biology, a 10-week program to encourage undergraduates with quantitative backgrounds to conduct research in biology laboratories and to encourage biology students to conduct research in chemistry or physics laboratories.