Structural Biology: Principles and Practice


The structure, dynamics, and energetics of biological systems can be investigated using biophysical techniques that involve the absorption, emission, and scattering of electromagnetic radiation and particles. This course provides a detailed overview of structural biology approaches used for the study of macromolecules (particularly proteins and nucleic acids) so that students will be able to understand journal articles and seminars dealing with these methods, as well as how these techniques can be applied to answer important questions in biochemistry or molecular biology.  While many different methods will be surveyed, the emphasis is on those techniques that enable atomic or near-atomic level descriptions of macromolecular structure: X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and electron cryomicroscopy. Their integration with other methods, such as fluorescence and scanning probe microscopy, to study the structure and function of complex macromolecules will also be discussed.

Course Next Offered

September 2024

Course Time and Location

10-11am, Tuesdays and Thursdays
Location: TBD



Enrollment Limit

Yes — 30

Method of Student Evaluation

Problem sets (take home): 30%
Midterm test (in class): 25%
Final exam (3 hours): 45%

Recommended Reading

“Biological Spectroscopy”, Ian D. Campbell & Raymond A. Dwek (Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., 1984)
“Biophysical Chemistry”, part II, Charles R. Cantor and Paul R. Schimmel (W.H. Freeman, 1980)
“Crystal Structure Analysis, a Primer”, 2nd ed., Jenny P. Glusker & Kenneth N. Trueblood (Oxford University Press, 1985)


Simon Sharpe

Simon Sharpe

Peter Gilgan Center for Research and Learning
686 Bay St., Room 20.9714


Last Updated 8 July 2024