Syllabus

Course Overview

Since the discovery of the structure of the DNA double helix in 1953 by Watson and Crick, the information on detailed molecular structures of DNA and RNA, namely, the foundation of genetic material, has expanded rapidly. This discovery is the beginning of the "Big Bang" of molecular biology and biotechnology. The principles of nucleic acid structures stem from the basic chemical interaction, especially in structural compatibility and chemical complementarity. Complementarity plays a key role in determining genetic heredity, i.e., heredity information is passed through generations, both in a conservative and evolutionary manner. Complexity often stems from simplicity. The structure of nucleic acid is no exception. In this seminar we will discuss, from a historical perspective and current developments, the importance of pursuing the detailed structural basis of genetic materials.

Course Instructor

Shuguang Zhang is an associate director at the Center for Biomedical Engineering. He is a past American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow. Shuguang is interested in studying the structural basis of molecular biology, biological materials, and the origins of life. He and his colleagues discovered a class of self-assembling oligopeptides, "Molecular Lego," with applications in biomaterials science.

Course Requirements

Weekly readings and regular attendance are expected.