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Module

BGM3064 : Applied Biochemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Martin Noble
  • Lecturer: Dr Mathew Martin, Professor Jeremy Lakey, Dr Andrew Knight, Dr Natalie Tatum, Professor Christopher Dennison, Dr Dominic Jones, Professor Wyatt Yue, Professor Bert van den Berg, Dr Elizabeth Veal, Dr David Bolam
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

As biochemists, we are interested in how chemical processes are linked to biological phenomena, and how a knowledge of biological molecules can explain the diverse processes that sustain life. But biochemistry has a greater role to play in society than just being a branch of the life sciences that is studied in classrooms and in research laboratories. Biochemistry has real-world applications in the maintenance of good health and in combatting disease, roles in the production of biofuels, in nano-circuitry and in bio-sensing and in the genetic modification of organisms to understand cellular processes and to treat complex diseases. The overall aim of this module is to introduce to students how biochemistry can be applied to solve real world problems. In addition to the direct learning outcomes, therefore, this module will provide experience, guidance and support for those considering a career in the greater biotechnology sector.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is designed to demonstrate various ways in which biochemistry can be applied to solving problems in health, diagnosis, and biotechnological applications. First we will discover how biochemistry can be applied in the production of biopharmaceuticals ("biologics"). For instance, the breast cancer drug Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that specifically inhibits a dysregulated plasma membrane-bound receptor tyrosine kinase, HER2. The role of antibodies in other therapeutic and biotechnological applications will also be covered.

The module will also introduce the role of biochemistry in nutraceuticals, dietary supplements that provide health benefits such as improved well-being or the prevention of chronic diseases and how glycan degrading enzymes can be used in the production of bioethanol. Further taught material will look at how metalloproteins can be adapted to be used in biofuel cells, in the oxidation of methane and as biosensors, and how membrane proteins have utility as biosensors, in nanoelectronics, and in the sequencing of DNA. We will also consider how genome editing can be used to re-write the genomic information in an individual cell and how this technology might be used to treat complex hereditary disorders.

Finally, we will take a close look at how the unmet need for new therapeutics is being addressed in a series of lectures and a workshop on modern approaches to drug discovery, using structure-based, in silico - and fragment-based approaches to the same end, the development of highly effective and selective new pharmaceuticals.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00PIP
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials31:003:00Non-sync online
Guided Independent StudySkills practice31:003:00Generic Skills Sessions. Non-synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Seminars. Synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching13:003:00PIP - Group Oral Presentations.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Computer Practical (Molecular Graphics) - PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Biomonopoly - PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork11:001:00PIP - External Online Visit/Tour - FujiFilm Diosynth.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1159:00159:00Writing up lecture notes, revision and general reading.
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. Lectures and lecture materials are used to present the core syllabus in the most efficient manner. The students will be introduced to general concepts and areas of particular importance, so that they can relate the class-room teaching to self-directed study. Students are actively encouraged to ask questions and to self-direct discussion during and after lectures, oral presentations and workshops/virtual fieldtrips. The self-directed questioning and discussion helps to test the students’ reasoning and interpretive skills so that the students can achieve the learning outcomes.


2. One workshop will be led by staff from the Careers Service, who is best-placed to help the students identify and appraise career opportunities in the biotechnology sector.

3. An interactive molecular graphics-based workshop will provide the students with an opportunity to visualise the output of a typical drug discovery / SAR programme using crystallography.

4. The trip to FujiFilm Diosynth will provide the students with a unique opportunity during their course to experience a national manufacturing facility of direct relevance to this module.

5. Skills practice sessions are generic, used to support development of core analytical and numerical skills across the curriculum.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A7024 hour open book exam (1 essay from choice of 3, 1600 words; online remote)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination1M5Present a one slide summary graphical abstract of a specified primary research paper (5 mins), provided 1 week in advance - PIP
Essay1M25Invigilated 2 hour short answer Paper Interpretation Exercise (PIE) same as graphical abstract presentation, Max of 8 questions PIP
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research paper1MComputer practical (Molecular Graphics). PIP
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The major form of assessment is the formal summer open book essay (70% of the total module mark), which tests students’ knowledge and understanding, and their ability to think critically and to write persuasively and coherently.

The in-course assessment will be a composite element comprising a Paper Interpretation Exercise (PIE, 25%), and a one slide oral presentation of a graphical abstract (5%), both relating to the same piece of primary literature relevant to the course content. These two exercises will develop and assess three important skills, namely the ability to pull key information and comprehension from primary literature, the ability to condense the principal findings of a paper into a readily digested representation, and the ability to make an oral presentation based on a graphically rich slide. The two elements are deliberately coordinated so that the preparation of the graphical abstract can be of value to the student in preparing for the PIE.

The formative assessment will provide the students with an opportunity to test their understanding of protein: ligand interactions and to visualise how small changes in the chemical nature of the ligand can affect binding energy.

Reading Lists

Timetable