Course Specifics:

Instructor: Dr. Jason C. Hurlbert

Office: Sims 301B

Office hours: M 10:30-11:30, R 12:30-1:30 and by appointment

Phone: 323-4928


Meeting Times:

Wednesday and Friday, 12:30 - 1:45 PM, Sims 113C

3 credit hours

Textbook: Biochemistry, 8th ed by Berg, Tymoczko, Gatto and Stryer

Course Outline and Objectives:

We will cover the following topics during the semester:

Course Outline:

Biochemistry is the branch of science focused on studying the structure, function and interactions of the molecules found in living systems. Its very name tells you that it is a hybrid discipline incorporating biology, organic chemistry, physcial chemistry and even physics into the study of the chemical reactions and interactions that allow life to exist. The goal of this course is to familiarize you with the vocabulary and concepts necessary to understand how living cells function at the molecular level. We will spend one third of the semester learning the basics of biological molecules: amino acids, proteins, sugars, polysaccharides and nucleic acids. In the second third of the semester, we will learn about the techniques necessary to study biological molecules and the rules governing enzymatic function. Finally, in the last part of the semester, we will look at the key reactions and processes that allow cells to convert the static information contained within the genome into functional proteins that allow the cell to adapt to its environment.

In order to accomplish these goals, we will rely upon various computational methods and current biochemical research papers in addition to the textbook and lecture notes. A large portion of your grade in the course will be based upon your implementation of these methods on your own as you describe and characterize proteins that have been assigned to you. Your efforts will culminate in a verbal presentation to the class and a 10 page review article discussing your proteins.

This is a 500 level course, which means that the concepts we will discuss are advanced and will require you to spend a lot of time and work outside of the classroom to fully understand and apply them. I have set up a virtual classroom at in order to be available and provide help to you after hours. This virtual classroom has full videoconferencing and whiteboard capabilities and, in the event of campus being closed due to inclement weather, will be used to hold class. Evening office hours in this virtual classroom will be determined and announced during the first week of class.

This class is meant to push you to your limits and will help you tie together concepts and information you have learned in general chemistry, organic chemistry and various biology courses you have taken during your college career. Every bit of effort you put into this class will be rewarded with a better understanding of the role of chemistry in biological systems and will be reflected in the grade you earn for the course. Go ahead and plan to work on the material for this class at least 10-15 hours a week.

CHEM523 Section 001 Tentative Course Schedule

For specific dates and assignments, please visit the "Course Schedule" page from the link in the top right

Week Topic
1 Course Introduction and the Importance of water
2 Amino acids and Protein Structure
  Exploring proteins and proteomes
3 Computational biology
4 Hemoglobin: Structure and function
5 Test 1
6 Enzyme Kinetics
  Catalytic strategies
7 Regulatory Strategies
8 Review for Test 2
9 Test 2
10 Carbohydrates
  Lipids and membranes
11 Nucleotides and nucleic acids
  DNA Replication
12 RNA Synthesis
13 Protein Synthesis
14 Test 3

Grading for the course

Homework Problems

Homework assignments (8 in total) will be due throughout the course, usually the week after finishing a topic. THe goal of these assignments is to help you review the material covered in the chapter so that you know what to spend the most time on during the in-class test review or while you study for the test.


Three tests will be administered during the semester. Understanding concepts from the beginning of the semester will be crucial to understanding concepts discussed at the end of the semester, so while the tests are not strictly cumulative, students are always responsible for material learned throughout the semester. Each exam will be worth 100 points. Exams will be taken during the class meeting time indicated on the Detailed Class Schedule webpage.

Protein Project

During the semester, each student will be assigned two proteins. Students will be responsible for working with these proteins during the semester. As we learn different bioinformatic, computational and visualization techniques, students will apply them to their assigned proteins. Throughout the semester, these assignments will be collected and graded.

At the end of the semester, students will write a 10-14 page review article about their proteins. This article will be due on the last day of the semester. Grading rubrics for the paper will be available on the course website on the Student Protein Assignments Page.

Final Exam

A cumulative final exam will be given on the scheduled date at the end of the semester.

Extra Credit Opportunities

Throughout the semester you will be given several opportunities to earn extra credit points. These opportunities will be challenging and are meant to be difficult. Failure to complete the assignment exactly as instructed will result in no points being awarded. Extra credit assignments are always non-negotiable: You do the assignment completely, you do the assignment well and you do the assignment in the manner it was intended to be done or you do not get any bonus points.


Test 1 (18 September, 2019)

Test 2 (16 Octobe4, 2019)

Test 3 (22 November, 2019)

Each test will have a value of 100 points

Final Exam 8:00AM Wednesday, 4 December, 2019

The final exam is cumulative and you must make at least a 50% on the exam to pass the course. The final exam will cover the entire course and will have a value of 200 points

Total Possible Points

Total Possible Points = 670 Points


A: 90 - 100% (603-660 pts)

B+: 87 - 89% (582-602 pts)

B: 80 - 86% (536-581 pts)

C+: 77 - 79% (515-535 pts)

C: 70 - 76% (469-514 pts)

D: 60 - 69% (402-468 pts)

F: <59% (<401 pts)