This course will focus on computational techniques used to study the structure and dynamics of
biomolecules, cells, and everything in between. For example, what is the structure of proteins, DNA,
and RNA, and how do their motions contribute to their function? How are molecules distributed and
compartmentalized within a cell, and how do they move around? How might one modify the behavior
of these systems using drugs or other therapeutics? How can structural information contribute to the
design of drugs, proteins, or perhaps even cells?
Computation can contribute to addressing such questions in at least two distinct ways. First, one can use computational analysis to extract information from experimental measurements, and to interpret and combine the results of such experiments. Second, one can use physical principles to predict structure or simulate motion.
The first part of the course will cover atomic-level molecular modeling methods for proteins and other biomolecules, including structure determination and prediction, molecular dynamics simulation, docking, and protein design. The second part will cover techniques for determining structures or structural properties of macromolecular complexes – for example, through cryoelectron microscopy. The third part will cover the cellular level of spatial organization, including computational analysis of optical microscopy images and video, and simulations at the cellular scale. The course will cover both foundational material and cutting-edge research in each of these areas.
Coursework: Students will be expected to complete several assignments (most likely three), each of which will involve a combination of theoretical questions and computer work. Students will also be expected to complete a project. The project will involve about as much work as an assignment, but it will be more open-ended and will allow students to delve into a topic of their choosing in more depth.
Prerequisites: Elementary Programming Background (at the level of 106A), Introductory Course in Biology
Instructor: Ron Dror
TA: Michael Kim
Class: Tuesday-Thursday 2:15-3:30, Braun Lecture Hall (Mudd Chemistry Building)
Announcements: All announcements will be made on Piazza.
Materials: There is no required textbook. We will suggest a variety of optional reading material throughout the course.
Exam: There will be a final exam held on Thursday, December 11 at 7 PM. Location: Braun Lecture Hall (where class is held)