BIOC 751 Syllabus

BIOC 751 - Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cell Biology:

Elective Module

Syllabus for Spring 2019

Course Coordinator: David Smith, Ph.D.

When: Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 03:00 – 04:00 p.m.
Where: 3050 HSC-N

Course Description:

The theme for BIOC751 2017 is “Molecular Machines of the Cell”. 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 of the cell (e.g. proteasomes, chaperones, transporters, ubiquitin ligases, vesicle and DNA modification machinery etc.). Faculty members will introduce 1-2 lecture topics on each week followed by a discussion of a related experimental/review research paper(s).


David Smith, Ph.D.
Phone: 304-293-9521
Office: HSC-N 3130F

Max Sokolov, Ph.D.
Phone: 304-598-6958 
Office: E217, Eye Institute 

Andrey Bobko Ph.D.
Phone: 304-293-5240 
Office: 5523 HSC-S

Alexey Ivanov Ph.D.
Phone: 304-293-4936 
Office: 218 BMRC, Erma Byrd

Jianhai Du Ph.D.
Phone: 304-598-6903 
Office: E215, Eye Institute 

Pete Mathers, Ph.D.
Phone: 304-293-0271
Office: 310 BMRC, Erma Byrd 

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn the conceptual fundamentals of selected molecular machines: mechanisms, structure, functions and malfunctions.
  • Students will be able to understand potential clinical application of the obtained knowledge
  • 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.
  • 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). Two text books are available in the library and faculty also have copies of the textbook upon request. Iliad (library sharing) can also be used to obtain specific chapters electronically via pdf. Lecturers will provide information for articles that will be discussed in class in addition to textbooks.

Media items:

Lecture slides and PDF version of the papers to be discussed will be placed in SOLE under the lecturers folder.


Attendance is mandatory for the lecture and active participation in the article discussion is expected. 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 the lecturer and course coordinator as soon as possible.

Course Grading:

  1. There will be one exam after each block provided by the instructor. The total of 6 exams will be averaged and represent the final grade. The exam will take place during the 7th lecture of each block and consist of essay questions the student will answer during the 1h exam period. The exam will be graded by the instructor and the grade provided to the students in one week.
  2. An optional make-up exam is scheduled at the end of the class schedule. If a student performed poorly on one particular exam they may choose to take a make-up exam that covers one block of material. New question will be prepared by the lecturer of the chosen makeup block. Only one exam block can be chosen for the optional make-up exam and the make-up exam grade will replace the prior exam grade, without exception.
  3. Scale

    A - 90-100% - 4500 - UP
    B - 80-89% - 3500 – 4400
    C - 70-79% - 2500 – 3400
    D - 60-69% - 1500 – 2400
    F - 59%-below - 2300 - below

Exam Dates:

Exams will take place after each block. The dates are listed on the schedule in red.

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.

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 your classes, please advise your instructors and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Accessibility Services. ( More information is available at the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ( as well.

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.

Academic Integrity Statement

The integrity of the classes offered by any academic institution solidifies the foundation of its mission and cannot be sacrificed to expediency, ignorance, or blatant fraud. Therefore, instructors will enforce rigorous standards of academic integrity in all aspects and assignments of their courses. For the detailed policy of West Virginia University regarding the definitions of acts considered to fall under academic dishonesty and possible ensuing sanctions, please see the West Virginia University Academic Standards Policy ( Should you have any questions about possibly improper research citations or references, or any other activity that may be interpreted as an attempt at academic dishonesty, please see your instructor before the assignment is due to discuss the matter.

Academic Standards Policy, including Academic Dishonesty

The WVU Catalog contains the full Undergraduate Academic Standards Policy and Graduate Academic and Professional Standards Policy. Resources for Faculty and Students for Reporting and Appealing Violations of Academic Standards.

Student Evaluation of Instruction Statement

Effective teaching is a primary mission of West Virginia University. Student evaluation of instruction provides the university and the instructor with feedback about your experiences in the course for review and course improvement. Your participation in the evaluation of course instruction is both strongly encouraged and highly valued. Results are strictly confidential, anonymous, and not available to the instructor until after final grades are released by Admissions and Records. Information about how you can complete this evaluation will provided by your instructor.

Sexual Misconduct Statement

West Virginia University does not tolerate sexual misconduct, including harassment, stalking, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, or relationship violence [BOG Rule 1.6]. It is important for you to know that there are resources available if you or someone you know needs assistance. You may speak to a member of university administration, faculty, or staff; keep in mind that they have an obligation to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator. (

If you want to speak to someone who is permitted to keep your disclosure confidential, please seek assistance from the Carruth Center, 304-293-9355 or 304-293-4431 (24-hour hotline), and locally within the community at the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center (RDVIC), 304- 292-5100 or 304-292-4431 (24-hour hotline).

For students at WVU-Beckley, contact the Women’s Resource Center at 304-255-1585 (toll free at 1-888-825-7836) or REACH at 304-340-3676. For students at WVU-Keyser, contact the WVU-Keyser Psychological Services Office at 304-788-6976, and locally in Keyser, the Family Crisis Center, 304-788-6061 or 1-800-698-1240 (24-hour hotline). For more information, please consult WVU's Title IX Office (