Graduate School of Medical Sciences

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Molecular Biology

Biochemistry and Structural Biology

This course covers equilibria, bond formation, chemical and enzyme kinetics, enzyme reaction mechanism, ligand binding, protein chemistry and structure, nucleic acid chemistry and structure, principles of protein purification, principles of macromolecular analysis, principles of macromolecular recognition and specificity, membrane biochemistry, metabolic pathways and principles of small molecule analysis.

Biophysical Methods

An overview of the diversity of modern biophysical experimental techniques used in the study of biological systems at the cellular and molecular level.  Topics covered will include methods that examine both structure and function of biological systems. Topics include light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, image processing, confocal and multiphoton microscopy, phase contrast, electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction and protein structure determination, multidimensional NMR, spectroscopy, chromophores, calcium measurements, resonance energy transfer, membrane biophysics, electrophysiology, ion channels, action potentials, ligand-gated channels, fluctuation analysis, patch-clamp, molecular biology of ion channels, capacitance measurements, amperometry, optical traps, and molecular force measurements. The course is intended for students who seek an introduction to modern biophysical experimental methods.  Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the course, students will have diverse backgrounds. A basic knowledge of and interest in physics and mathematics is expected but strong attempts are made to give an intuitive understanding of the mathematics and physics involved. Some knowledge of physical chemistry, molecular and cell biology, or neurobiology will be helpful. Depending on individual background most students will find certain aspects easy and other aspects demanding.

Cryoelectron Microscopy of Macromolecular Assemblies

This course, which is held on the premises of the New York Structural Biology Center, will cover the theory and practice of solving molecular structures by electron microscopy. It blends a series of lectures from local experts followed by student-led discussion sessions with practical sessions that parallel the topics introduced during the lectures. The course first covers optics, sample preparation and a basic mathematical description of diffraction before moving into a detailed exploration of the three main methods of structure determination: tomography, single particle analysis and 2D crystallography. The course ends with a discussion of map interpretation and molecular fitting.

From Cells to Organisms and Diseases

This course is Module II of a two-part course that explores how groups of cells function and are arranged within organisms, and mechanisms of cell dysfunction that lead to disease, involving eleven, week-long topics including: cell division and cell death, cell adhesion, cell signaling, mechanisms of organismal development, stem cells, aging-related disorders, infection, and cancer. The course will be taught in a new format involving primary literature-based learning, where research papers are matched to each of two lectures on a week-long topic and examined by classroom-based discussion.

From Genes to Cells

This course is Module I of a two-part course that explores the regulatory mechanisms that govern information flow all the way from DNA to cells, involving eleven, week-long topics including: DNA replication and repair, transcription and RNA splicing, mRNA processing and translation, quality control, cytoskeleton, membranes, metabolism, and aspects of cellular homeostasis. The course will be taught in a new format involving primarily literature-based learning, where research papers are matched to each of two lectures on a week-long topic and examined by classroom-based discussion.

Logic and Critical Analysis

This course is designed to promote the critical analysis skills necessary to be a successful scientist. Students read papers from the primary literature and discuss the experiments described. Questions addressed are:
-“What was the hypothesis?”
-“What were the experiments designed to test?”
-“What other information is necessary to interpret the experiment?”
-“Do the experiments accomplish their goals?”
-“What problems exist in the experiments?”
-“Where might you go from here?”

To develop critical analysis skills, the first group of presentations will emphasize one or two figures only in each paper. Subsequently, two to three papers will be assigned as a thematic group by each instructor and will be discussed sequentially.

Molecular Genetics

This course is organized around the principles of genetic analysis, with examples chosen from organisms that best illustrate those principles. The course is based on lectures, problem sets and discussion sections. Topics covered include: the nature of the gene, linkage and physical maps, recombination mechanisms, nature of mutations, mutations as tools to dissect gene function, transposition, epigenetics, cancer genetics, genetic analysis of development and cell-cell signaling.

Principles of Developmental Biology

The course presents key concepts in Developmental Biology that will draw on research in several invertebrate and vertebrate model systems, including fly, nematodes, zebrafish, frog, chick and mouse. In the first part, general principles that have emerged in Developmental Biology are discussed. The second part focuses on how these principles operate during lineage development and organogenesis. The last part examines how errors in developmental pathways result in congenital disorders and human disease. 

This is an elective course that is aimed primarily towards 2nd and 3rd year graduate students; however, it is open to students from all years and from all WCGS Programs of Study. Students should have finished the BCMB Core Course requirements, or equivalent courses covering molecular and cell biology and genetics. The course consists of 16 lectures taught by WCMC and SKI faculty and two additional guest lectures by Dr. Shai Shaham (Rockefeller U) and Natasza Kurpios (Cornell U, Ithaca). In addition, students will lead six interactive group discussions of selected research papers.

Responsible Conduct of Research

The objectives of this course are to: heighten students' awareness of ethical considerations relevant to the conduct of research; inform students of federal, state and institutional policies, regulations and procedures; and provide students with critical analysis and problem solving skills for ethical decision-making.

Stem Cell Biology

Stem cells have the unique dual property of self-renewal and differentiation capacity. Therefore, progress in understanding stem cell biology is considered essential for harnessing the potential of regenerative medicine to maintain normal tissue homeostasis as well as for cellular therapies. In this course, experts in stem cell biology from Weill Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering will discuss a spectrum of topics that cover the current literature on this fast-moving and exciting field. First, we will explore the meaning of embryonic stem cell pluripotency and recent progress in reprogramming differentiated cells into a stem cell state. Second, various examples of adult tissue-restricted stem cells will be discussed. Third, the ability to use stem cells for disease modeling and the production of defined and clinically relevant cell types will be examined. Finally, efforts at targeting cancer stem cells and other therapeutic approaches will be covered.

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Weill Cornell Medicine
Graduate School of Medical Sciences
1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-5981