Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Director of undergraduate studies: Andrew Miranker, 318 BASS, 432-8954, MBBUndergrad@yale.edu; mb&b.yale.edu

The programs offered by the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry are planned for students interested in the molecular and chemical basis of biological processes and are well suited to students hoping to attend medical school or pursue graduate studies in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, or biophysics. The B.S. major, designed for those with a strong commitment to research, provides an intensive introduction to laboratory techniques in biochemistry and biophysics. Students in this program usually carry out research projects in faculty laboratories during their junior and senior years. The B.A. major provides the intellectual discipline of biochemistry and biophysics for students who also wish to have sufficient time to pursue in-depth studies outside the major or who are interested in molecular biology as a liberal education; they too may engage in research during their junior and senior years.

Prerequisites

The basic science courses required of all majors include four half-term units of foundational biology (BIOL 101102103104); a two-term lecture sequence in general chemistry with its associated laboratories; a first term course in organic chemistry with its associated laboratory; and two terms of calculus (MATH 112 and 116). BIOL 101, 102, chemistry, and mathematics prerequisites may be satisfied by scores on Advanced Placement tests or placement examinations sufficient to earn acceleration credits in the particular subjects, even if the student does not choose to accelerate. BIOL 103 and 104 may be waived in consultation with an MB&B faculty advisor and permission of the director of undergraduate studies (DUS).

Requirements of the Major

The major requirements for the Class of 2024 and previous classes With approval from the DUS, the following changes to the major may be fulfilled by students who declared their major under previous requirements.

The following changes to the major requirements for the Class of 2025 and subsequent classes apply for the B.S. degree, the B.A. degree, and the B.S./M.S. degree.

B.S. degree program Thirteen course credits are required beyond the prerequisites: a second term of organic chemistry; two term courses in physics numbered PHYS 170 or higher; MB&B 275 or one term of physical chemistry followed by MB&B 302 or equivalent; MB&B 251L, 300, 301, and 490; two additional upper-level MB&B electives, one of which must not be a laboratory or independent research course; one quantitative reasoning elective (e.g., MATH 120 or above, S&DS 105 or 230 or above, CPSC 201 or above, or ENAS 130 or above); one elective in the natural sciences at a level higher than required in the prerequisites; and MB&B 268, a half-credit seminar taken concurrently with a humanities course elective. Only two course credits of independent research MB&B 470, 471, and 478, 479 may count toward these electives. The quantitative reasoning requirement may not be fulfilled by Advanced Placement test scores.

B.A. degree program Eleven course credits are required beyond the prerequisites: a second term of organic chemistry; two term courses in physics numbered PHYS 170 or higher; MB&B 275 or one term of physical chemistry; MB&B 251L, 300301, and 490; one additional upper-level MB&B elective; one quantitative reasoning elective (e.g., MATH 120 or above, S&DS 105 or 230 or above, CPSC 201 or above, or ENAS 130 or above); and MB&B 268, a half-credit seminar taken concurrently with a humanities course elective. Students choose the elective courses in consultation with a faculty adviser (see below). The quantitative reasoning requirement may not be fulfilled by Advanced Placement test scores.

Credit/D/Fail Courses taken Credit/D/Fail may not be counted toward the requirements of the major.

Senior Requirement

The senior requirement for both the B.S. and the B.A. is fulfilled by successful completion of the senior project, MB&B 490. Students enrolled in this course prepare a written report and make an oral presentation of a literature project. Students meet with faculty members in charge of the colloquium during the first two weeks of the spring term to agree on a topic and an approach. It is appropriate for students who took research for credit earlier in their training to write on their research topic. It is inappropriate for students to submit a revised version of a past research report or to resubmit a literature paper prepared for another course. The literature project for the senior requirement should be original work approved by the faculty member overseeing the senior colloquium.

The written report is expected to be 15–25 pages in length (double-spaced, twelve-point font, exclusive of figures). A first draft of the paper is due two weeks prior to the date of the oral presentation. Faculty in charge of the program will review the draft and return it to the student with suggestions. A final draft of the paper is due the first day of the reading period in the student's final term.

Students make a fifteen-minute oral presentation during the last three weeks of their final term in a general scientific forum open to the public. Other students in the series are expected to attend all presentations.

Advising

Recommended courses All B.S. majors are encouraged to include MB&B 470 or 471 among their MB&B electives. Declared MB&B majors may take up to two credits of these independent research courses for a letter grade. The prerequisites in either general or organic chemistry should be taken in the first year.

Students with a strong interest in biophysics, including those planning to attend graduate school, are strongly encouraged to take courses beyond the basic requirements of the major. Such students are advised to take mathematics through differential equations (ENAS 194, MATH 246, or PHYS 301) and a full year of physical chemistry (CHEM 332 and 333). Thoughtful revisions to the basic curriculum can be made in consultation with the faculty adviser and are subject to approval by the DUS.

Graduate work Graduate courses in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, biology, and the biomedical sciences that may be of interest to undergraduates are listed in the Graduate School online bulletin, and many are posted on the Biological and Biomedical Sciences website. Additional information is available from the DUSes and the director of graduate studies. Undergraduates with an appropriate background may enroll with the permission of the director of graduate studies and the instructor.

Typical programs Diverse pathways exist for navigating the B.A. and B.S. degrees with the minimum first-year requirements of BIOL 101, 102, 103 and 104, general chemistry with labs (e.g. CHEM 161, 165, 134L and 136L), and introductory calculus (e.g. MATH 112). For further examples, including the use of acceleration credits and DUS approved waivers, see the MB&B undergraduate handbook

Combined B.S./M.S. degree program A very small number of students will be eligible to complete a six-year course of study within 8 terms of enrollment leading to the simultaneous award of the B.S. and M.S. degrees. See Academic Regulations, section K, Special Arrangements, “Simultaneous Award of the Bachelor's and Master's Degrees.” Interested students should consult the DUS prior to the sixth term of enrollment for specific requirements in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

MB&B faculty advisory system Two MB&B faculty serve as academic advisers for each class year. Students may choose either of the advisers as listed for their class year and maintain an advising relationship throughout their studies. The advisers are apprised of curriculum-related details for each year. Members acting as faculty advisers are:

Class of 2022:
C. Paulsen, 234 BASS (432-5342)
M. Koelle, CE28A SHM (737-5808)

Class of 2023:
L. Kabeche, West Campus 
M. Hochstrasser, 228 BASS (432-5101)

Class of 2024:
F. Bleichert, YSB 345 (432-8411)
A. Miranker, 220 BASS (737-3274)

Class of 2025:
TBD

REQUIREMENTS OF THE MAJOR

Prerequisites B.S. and B.A.BIOL 101, 102, 103, and 104; a two-term lecture sequence in general chem, with labs, and 1 term of organic chem with lab; MATH 112, 116

Number of courses B.S.—13 term course credits beyond prereqs, incl senior req; B.A.—11 term course credits beyond prereqs, incl senior req

Specific courses requiredB.S. and B.A.— MB&B 251L, MB&B 268 (taken concurrently with a humanities course elective), 300, 301

Distribution of courses B.S.—a second term of organic chem; MB&B 275 or one term of physical chemistry followed by MB&B 302 or equivalent; 2 terms of PHYS 170 or above; 2 addtl upper-level MB&B electives, 1 quantitative reasoning elective, and 1 natural science elective, all as specified; B.A.—a second term of organic chem; 2 terms of PHYS 170 or above; MB&B 275 or one term of physical chemistry; 1 addtl upper-level MB&B elective and 1 quantitative reasoning elective, as specified

Senior requirement Senior project (MB&B 490)

The B.A. and B.S. degrees offered by the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B) are for students interested not just in what life is, but also in how it works. MB&B students seek to understand life at a mechanistic level by studying how the complex molecules found in living organisms create structures, carry out chemistry, and store and utilize information to generate the remarkable properties of living organisms. Biochemistry is the discipline that identifies and studies the molecules and chemical reactions in biological organisms. Molecular biophysics uses the methods of physics to study how these molecules work by determining their three-dimensional structures and mechanisms of action. For example, biochemistry was used to discover DNA and the fact that it carries genetic information, while biophysics was used to discover its double-helix structure. The MB&B major is well suited to students planning to attend medical school or to pursue graduate studies and a career in biomedical research.

First years interested in the MB&B major should start their scientific studies at Yale by taking course work in chemistry and biology. Students should enroll in the most advanced chemistry courses for which they are eligible, and either in fall or spring term begin the four half-term, half-credit introductory biology courses prerequisite to all majors in the biological sciences. Information about the Chemistry placement process can be found on the department website.

The following program is recommended for the first year:

Select one of the following sequences:

Option 1:

Option 2:

And in fall or spring term, begin the following sequence of courses:

The single most important thing first-year students can do to prepare for the MB&B major is to take the most advanced chemistry course for which they qualify. If eligible, first years are urged to begin study with Comprehensive University Chemistry, and with the associated laboratories. Beginning organic chemistry as a first year allows a student to start course work in biochemistry in the sophomore year, and also allows a wider choice of advanced science electives in the junior and senior years. An organic chemistry series (CHEM 174 and 175) is offered specifically for first years and is popular with our majors.

First-year students are urged to contact the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). 

FACULTY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MOLECULAR BIOPHYSICS AND BIOCHEMISTRY

Professors †Karen Anderson, Susan Baserga, †Ronald Breaker, †Gary Brudvig, †Sandy Chang, Enrique De La Cruz, †Daniel DiMaio, Donald Engelman, Alan Garen, Mark Gerstein, Nigel Grindley (Emeritus), † Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Mark Hochstrasser, Jonathon Howard, Michael Koelle, Anthony Koleske, William Konigsberg, †Mark Lemmon, †Patrick Loria, †I. George Miller, Andrew Miranker, †Peter Moore (Emeritus), Karla Neugebauer, †Thomas Pollard, †Karen Reinisch, †David Schatz, Robert Schulman (Emeritus), †Frederick Sigworth, Dieter Söll, Mark Solomon, Joan Steitz, Scott Strobel, Yong Xiong

Associate Professors Julien Berro, †Titus Boggon, Wendy Gilbert, Christian Schlieker, Matthew Simon, Chuck Sindelar, †Shervin Takyar, †Yongli Zhang

Assistant Professors Franziska Bleichert, †Luisa Escobar-Hoyos, Lilian Kabeche, †Erdem Karatekin, †Zachary Levine, Nikhil Malvankar, †Wei Mi, Candice Paulsen, †Sarah Slavoff, Kai Zhang

Adjunct Professors  Kenneth Williams, Carl Zimmer 

Lecturer Aruna Pawashe

†A joint appointment with primary affiliation in another department.