BIOC 751 Syllabus

Elective Module

BIOC 751 - Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cell Biology:

Syllabus for spring 2017

Course Coordinator: Elena Pugacheva, Ph.D.
Office Phone: 293-5295

When: Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 01:00 – 02:00 p.m.
Where: 3122A "Wirtz Library", Health Sciences Center

Course Description: The theme for BIOC751 2017 is "Molecular Machines". The course is team taught by the Biochemistry department faculty. This course will introduce students to the advanced material, topics and principles that define the characteristics and function of molecular machines (such as cilium, proteasomes, chaperones, kinetochore, mitochondria/peroxisomes Ca2+ pumps, ect) in a normal cells that operate on daily routine (docking of vesicles, protein synthesis, chromatid tethering, gliding along microtubule "railroads". Faculty members will introduce 1-2 lecture topics on each week followed by a discussion of a related experimental/review research papers.


Elena Pugacheva, Ph.D. -
Roberta Leonardi, Ph.D. -
David Smith, Ph.D. -
Pete Mathers, Ph.D. -
Max Sokolov, Ph.D. -
Yehenew Agazie, Ph.D. -

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will learn the conceptual fundamentals of selected molecular machines: structure, function, malfunctions.
  2. Students will be able to understand potential clinical application of the obtained knowledge
  3. Students will develop a specialized vocabulary that will allow them to comprehend and operate the advanced scientific research literature in the field of molecular/cellular biology.
  4. Students will understand how some advanced techniques and experimental strategies are used in contemporary research.

Course Textbooks: Molecular Biology of Assemblies and Machines (MAM) by Alasdair Steven, 1st edition (2016, Garland Science); Molecular Biology of Cell by Bruce Alberts, 6th edition (2014, Garland Science)

Media items:; SOLE

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory for the lecture and active participation in the paper discussion is part of the final grade. Students should contact the professor scheduled to lecture or the course coordinator when an excused absence is necessary and arrange for the makeup assignment to cover the missed material. If you cannot get to class because of adverse weather conditions, you should contact course coordinator as soon as possible.

Course Grading:

  1. There will be one quiz after each block provided by the instructor. The total of 6 quizzes will be averaged and represent 80% of final grade. The quiz will take place during the 7th lecture of each block and consist of 3 questions from which student has to answer 2 in an essay form during 1h. The quiz will be graded by instructor and the grade provided to the students in one week.
  2. The final exam (20% of final grade) will take place on May 3rd. The format of the final exam is an oral examination in a form of jeopardy game. Each instructor will provide 10 questions based on the lecture/discussion material. 60 questions total will be used for the game. The 100 points will be given for each correct answer.
Grade Percentage of Total Total Points
A 90 - 100% 360 - 400
B 80 - 89% 320 - 359
C 70 - 79% 280 - 319
D 60 - 69% 240 - 279
F 59% and below 239 - below

Exam Dates:

Quizzes will take place after each block, 90% of final grade. The dates see in the table below in red.
Final Exam – May 3rd, 10% of a final grade

Inclusivity Statement:

The West Virginia University community is committed to creating and fostering a positive learning and working environment based on open communication, mutual respect, and inclusion. If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order to participate in this class, please advise Dr. Pugacheva and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Accessibility Services(304-293-6700). For more information on West Virginia University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, please see

Participation in paper discussions:

Students are required to be active and engaged in the discussion of assigned scientific papers each week. Faculty members will lead the paper discussions and will be responsible for the progress of the discussion. Students should demonstrate thorough familiarity with the paper. Students will be expected to respond thoughtfully to ideas and questions from the faculty member and other students. These discussions can also be used to address questions to the faculty members to gain a further understanding of the methods and concepts described in the assigned papers. Faculty members leading the discussion will evaluate the participation of each student.

Adverse Weather Commitment:

In the event of inclement or threatening weather, everyone should use his or her best judgment regarding travel to and from campus. Safety should be the main concern. If you cannot get to class because of adverse weather conditions, you should contact me as soon as possible. Similarly, if I am unable to reach our class location, I will notify you of any cancellation or change as soon as possible (before class starts), using email through SOLE to prevent you from embarking on any unnecessary travel. If you cannot get to class because of weather conditions, I will make allowances relative to required attendance policies, as well as any scheduled tests, quizzes, or other assessments.