Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Molecular View of Human Anatomy: Molecular Mechanisms of Antibiotics Action and Resistance

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Shuchismita Dutta, SAS - Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Protein Database

Stephen K Burley, SAS - Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Proteomics Building Room 126
Busch Campus


What do proteins, DNA, and RNA look like? Where do these molecules fit in your body and how do they work? This seminar will introduce you to the basics of structural biology using human anatomy, physiology, and disease as themes.

The focus of the 2018 Molecular View of Human Anatomy course will be to understand the structures and functions of proteins involved in Antimicrobial action and resistance. Student learning and discussion will focus on molecular mechanisms of antibiotic action and resistance, along with evolutionary origins, and global health concerns.

During the first half of the semester, students will learn the fundamentals of structural biology - how proteins, DNA, and RNA are shaped and how their three-dimensional structures are experimentally determined. They will be introduced to selected classes of antibiotics, and guided in their explorations of molecular mechanisms of their antibiotic functions. Through the second half of the seminar, students will conduct supervised research on contemporary ideas concerning specific aspects of Antimicrobial Resistance – such as their evolutionary origins, diagnosis, epidemiology, molecular etiology, and clinical management. They will learn to appreciate how knowledge about the structures of relevant molecules can play an important role in understanding this global emergency.

Throughout the semester, students will learn to use scientific data resources (including the Protein Data Bank, PubMed, and UniProt), critically read scientific articles, identify molecules related to the assigned topics, analyze them in detail, and write scholarly articles about them. Students will have the opportunity to get their articles reviewed by experts in the field and publish them on an online educational resource. All class related material will be made available online. Students are strongly encouraged to bring in their own laptops to class.

The seminar has no pre-requisites; science and non-science majors are encouraged to enroll. Students will be evaluated on the bases of two written reports and two oral presentations related to structural aspects of the course them plus participation in class discussions/activities. The seminar requires research-based learning and familiarizes students with a structural view of biology at the atomic level.

This course satisfies the SAS Core Goal: WCD (t, u, v), where t, u, and v imply that the student is able to:

(t)--Communicate effectively in modes appropriate to a discipline or area of inquiry;

(u)--Evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly; and

(v)--Analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources to generate new insights.

Shuchismita Dutta, Ph.D. is a structural biologist with training in X-ray crystallography, bioinformatics. She is the Scientific Educational Development Lead at the RCSB Protein Data Bank, and has over 12 years of experience in teaching a wide range of audiences about visualization of structural data. Dutta has extensive experience with curating nd using structural data and has been involved in research and management of several data remediation projects organized by the worldwide PDB. About 10 years ago she initiated the honors seminar titled Molecular View of Human Anatomy. She has also collaborated with educators, scientists and clinicians to develop curricular modules for learning about biological molecules in general, and also molecules related to specific processes or diseases (such as HIV/AIDS and Diabetes). Dutta has authored many scholarly articles scientific articles, and continues to train a wide range of audiences in promoting molecular structural view of biology and medicine.

Stephen K. Burley, M.D., D.Phil. is an expert in structural biology, proteomics, bioinformatics, structure/fragment based drug discovery, and clinical medicine/oncology. He currently serves as a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Director of the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research, and Director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He is also the Founding Director of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine at Rutgers and a Member of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. From 2008 to 2012, Burley was a Distinguished Lilly Research Scholar in Lilly Research Laboratories. Prior to joining Lilly, Burley served as the Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of SGX Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company that was acquired by Lilly in 2008. Until 2002, Burley was the Richard M. and Isabel P. Furlaud Professor at The Rockefeller University, and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Burley has authored/coauthored more than 250 scholarly scientific articles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the New York Academy of Sciences.