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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education

Dale Hancock, Nicole Hare, Paul Denny, Gareth Denyer
Disciplines such as Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which involve concepts not included in the high-school curriculum, are very challenging for many first year university students. These subjects are particularly difficult for students accustomed to surface learning strategies involving memorization and recall of facts, as a deeper understanding of the relationship between concepts is needed for successful transfer to related areas and subsequent study. In this article, we explore an activity in a very large first year Molecular Biology course, in which students create multiple-choice questions related to targeted learning outcomes, and then answer and evaluate one another's questions...
March 12, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Julie A Roden, Susanne Jakob, Casey Roehrig, Tamara J Brenner
In the past ten years, increasing evidence has demonstrated that scientific teaching and active learning improve student retention and learning gains in the sciences. Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), who play an important role in undergraduate education at many universities, require training in these methods to encourage implementation, long-term adoption, and advocacy. Here, we describe the design and evaluation of a two-day training workshop for first-year GTAs in the life sciences. This workshop combines instruction in current research and theory supporting teaching science through active learning as well as opportunities for participants to practice teaching and receive feedback from peers and mentors...
March 12, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Danielle H Dube
"Drug Discovery" is a 13-week lecture and laboratory-based course that was developed to introduce non-science majors to foundational chemistry and biochemistry concepts as they relate to the unifying theme of drug discovery. The first part of this course strives to build students' understanding of molecules, their properties, the differences that enable them to be separated from one another, and their abilities to bind to biological receptors and elicit physiological effects. After building students' molecular worldview, the course then focuses on four classes of drugs: antimicrobials, drugs that affect the mind, steroid-based drugs, and anti-cancer drugs...
March 12, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Allan Ayella, Moriah R Beck
There is a growing movement to involve undergraduate students in authentic research experiences. A variety of studies have indicated the strength of this approach in developing scientific aptitude, confidence, critical thinking skills, and increasing the likelihood to become career scientists. Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) foster opportunities for students to carry out authentic research at both primarily undergraduate and large research institutions. Here, we describe a novel CURE-based biochemistry laboratory course to explore the consequences of mutagenesis of non-conserved amino acid sites in the structure and function of the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme and demonstrate how collaborations between institutions can facilitate real research experiences at any type of institution...
March 7, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Jeffrey A Lawton, Noelle A Prescott, Ping X Lawton
We have developed an integrated, project-oriented curriculum for undergraduate molecular biology and biochemistry laboratory courses spanning two semesters that is organized around the ldhA gene from the yogurt-fermenting bacterium Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which encodes the enzyme d-lactate dehydrogenase. The molecular biology module, which consists of nine experiments carried out over eleven sessions, begins with the isolation of genomic DNA from L. bulgaricus in yogurt and guides students through the process of cloning the ldhA gene into a prokaryotic expression vector, followed by mRNA isolation and characterization of recombinant gene expression levels using RT-PCR...
March 7, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Hong Seng Gan, Nicholas Yee Kwang Tee, Mohammad Raziun Bin Mamtaz, Kevin Xiao, Brandon Huey-Ping Cheong, Oi Wah Liew, Tuck Wah Ng
The appreciation and understanding of gas generation through processes is vital in biochemical education. In this work, an augmented reality tool is reported to depict the redox reaction between hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite solutions, two ubiquitous oxidizing agents, to create oxygen, a combustible gas. As it operates out of smartphones or tablets, students are able to conduct the exercise collaboratively, respond in a manner similar to an actual physical experiment, and able to depict the oxygen volume changes in relation to the volume of hydrogen peroxide of different concentrations used...
February 28, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Praveen Maurye, Arpita Basu, Jayanta Kumar Biswas, Tapas Kumar Bandyopadhyay, Malay Naskar
Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) is the most classical technique favored worldwide for resolution of macromolecules in many biochemistry laboratories due to its incessant advanced developments and wide modifications. These ever-growing advancements in the basic laboratory equipments lead to emergence of many expensive, complex, and tricky laboratory equipments. Practical courses of biochemistry at high school or undergraduate levels are often affected by these complications. Two dimensional gel electrophoresis technique (2D-PAGE) used for resolving thousands of proteins in a gel is a combination of isoelectric focusing (first dimension gel electrophoresis technique) and sodium-dodecylsulphate PAGE (second dimension gel electrophoresis technique or SDS-PAGE)...
February 28, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Jie Shen, Xiang Zhu, Kai Jin, Ya Li, YiTian Gu, Jiahong Huang, Yulan Qu, Xiaoyu Li
The development and evaluation of a 6-hours laboratory class, based on capillary electrophoresis (CE) and the detection of microbial contaminants, is described. It can be easily scaled up or down, to suit class sizes up to 188 and completed in a shorter time scale. CE uses narrow-bore fused-silica capillaries to separate a complex array of large and small molecules. A laboratory exercise has been devised to illustrate how CE-based genetic analysis system processes DNA fragment analysis to detect three microbial contaminants...
February 23, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Stephen R Burgin, Jennifer Oramous, Michael Kaminski, Linda Stocker, Mahmoud Moradi
Modeling is a practice of science that is underemphasized in biology classrooms in comparison to its central focus in the physical sciences. Visualizations of the submicroscopic world of molecules are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the evolution of new technologies. With this in mind, we introduced high school biology classrooms to a professional molecular modeling software program used by research biochemists to visualize proteins and other macromolecules. Analysis of surveys completed before and after the use of the program revealed significant student gains in their understandings of the nature of models...
February 19, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
William J Roesler, Kristine Dreaver-Charles
Successful learning of biochemistry requires students to engage with the material. In the past this often involved students writing out pathways by hand, and more recently directing students to online resources such as videos, songs, and animated slide presentations. However, even these latter resources do not really provide students an opportunity to engage with the material in an active fashion. As part of an online introductory metabolism course that was developed at our university, we created a series of twelve online interactive activities using Adobe Captivate 9...
February 1, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Rhianna K Pedwell, James A Fraser, Jack T H Wang, Jack K Clegg, Jy D Chartres, Susan L Rowland
Course-integrated Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) involve large numbers of students in real research. We describe a late-year microbiology CURE in which students use yeast to address a research question around beer brewing or synthesizing biofuel; the interdisciplinary student-designed project incorporates genetics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and microbiology. Students perceived significant learning gains around multiple technical and "becoming a scientist" aspects of the project...
January 31, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Deborah M Thurtle-Schmidt, Te-Wen Lo
Disrupting a gene to determine its effect on an organism's phenotype is an indispensable tool in molecular biology. Such techniques are critical for understanding how a gene product contributes to the development and cellular identity of organisms. The explosion of genomic sequencing technologies combined with recent advances in genome-editing techniques has elevated the possibilities of genetic manipulations in numerous organisms in which these experiments were previously not readily accessible or possible...
January 30, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Andres Fernandez-Reche, Eva S Cobos, Irene Luque, Javier Ruiz-Sanz, Jose C Martinez
In 1972 Christian B. Anfinsen received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "…his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation." The understanding of this principle is crucial for physical biochemistry students, since protein folding studies, bio-computing sciences and protein design approaches are founded on such a well-demonstrated connection. Herein, we describe a detailed and easy-to-follow experiment to reproduce the most relevant assays carried out at Anfinsen's laboratory in the 60s...
January 4, 2018: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Nianhui Zhang, Dong Yu, Xiaofeng Zhu
The practice of RNA isolation in undergraduate experimental courses is rare because of the existence of robust, ubiquitous and stable ribonucleases. We reported here modifications to our original protocol for RNA isolation from plant tissues, including the recovery of nucleic acids by ethanol precipitation at 0 °C for 10 min and the assessment of RNA quality by visualizing the banding profile of the separated RNAs on a standard nondenaturing agarose gel to shorten the duration of the whole procedure and simplify the operation...
December 29, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Peter G Arthur, Reza Zareie, Paul Kirkwood, Martha Ludwig, Paul V Attwood
Assessment is a central component of course curriculums and is used to certify student learning, but it can also be used as a tool to improve teaching and learning. Many laboratory courses are structured such that there is only a grade for a particular laboratory, which limits the insights that can be gained in student learning. We developed a laboratory program that incorporates assessments designed to probe student understanding of different components of the individual modules making up the program. The challenge was to analyze and present grades from these assessment tasks in a format that was readily interpretable by academics...
December 29, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Chuifeng Fan, Biying Jiang, Xiuying Shi, Enhua Wang, Qingchang Li
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a unique form of pedagogy dedicated to developing students' self-learning and clinical practice skills. After several decades of development, although applications vary, PBL has been recognized all over the world and implemented by many medical schools. This review summarizes and updates the application and study of PBL in medical education through the literature published between 1993 and early 2017. It focuses on understanding real medical PBL courses and ways to improve PBL to achieve better learning outcomes...
December 29, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Ryan Cook, Drew Hannon, Jonathan N Southard, Sudipta Majumdar
A one semester undergraduate biochemistry laboratory experience is described for an understanding of recombinant technology from gene cloning to protein characterization. An integrated experimental design includes three sequential modules: molecular cloning, protein expression and purification, and protein analysis and characterization. Students perform the tasks of cloning, expression, purification, analysis, and characterization of small laccase (SLAC) from Streptomyces coelicolor. SLAC is an extremely robust well-characterized protein/enzyme, which serves as an ideal model for undergraduate teaching laboratories...
December 23, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Caixia Jin, Haibin Tian, Jiao Li, Song Jia, Siguang Li, Guo-Tong Xu, Lei Xu, Lixia Lu
Stem cells are cells that can self-renew and differentiate into a variety of cell types under certain conditions. Stem cells have great potential in regenerative medicine and cell therapy for the treatment of certain diseases. To deliver knowledge about this frontier in science and technology to medical undergraduate students, we designed an innovative practical experiment for freshmen in their second semester. The lab exercise focused on rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (BMSC) isolation, cell culture and differentiation, and it aimed to help students master the aseptic techniques for cell culture, the basic methods and procedures for the primary culture and passage of BMSCs, the basic procedure for the directional differentiation of BMSCs into adipocytes and their subsequent identification by oil-red-O staining...
December 23, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Rossana Pesi, Francesco Balestri, Piero L Ipata
This article is a guided pedagogical approach, devoted to postgraduate students specializing in biochemistry, aimed at presenting all single reactions and overall equations leading to the metabolic interaction between ureagenesis and citric acid cycle to be incorporated into a two-three lecture series about the interaction of urea cycle with other metabolic pathways. We emphasize that citrate synthetase, aconitase, and isocitrate dehydrogenase, three enzymes of the citric acid cycle are not involved, thus creating a shunt in citric acid cycle...
December 15, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Magdy Mahmoud Elnashar
In Australian Universities, based on a study from 1992 to 2014, the Feedback item has been consistently poorly rated by students. In addition, Biochemistry is a complex STEM subject which many students find difficult and was considered the hardest subject according to a recent study by Antigua medical school in the United States. In this work, a new and interactive teaching method, FastFeedback Questions (FFQs), has been devised. FFQs are a rapid formative feedback method that involves embedding carefully crafted focus questions alongside PowerPoint slides (outside the slide field)...
December 8, 2017: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
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