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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Wendy Thomas
BIOEN 599
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Bioengineering

Offered at a graduate level periodically by faculty members within the Department of Bioengineering; concerns areas of research activities with current and topical interest to bioengineers. Prerequisite: undergraduate or graduate courses (or equivalent) determined individually for each special topic.

Class description

This course addresses how biological macromolecules convert chemical to mechanical signals or energy and vice-versa. The goals of this course are both to understand biology and to learn the principles needed to engineer biologically inspired devices or devices that interface with biology. Mechanics at the nanoscale can be conceptually quite different than mechanics at the macroscale, so the first unit of this course presents a quantitative engineering and physical principles for molecular biomechanics. The second unit focuses on applications. This will include (1) motor proteins and other molecules that convert chemical energy to mechanical forces, (2) mechanical force and adhesion, and (3) current research on mechanosensory proteins that convert mechanical signals to chemical cues. In all cases, examples will be taken from a broad range of research areas that may include muscle, other eukaryotic cells, and bacteria.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

small group lectures interspersed with discussions.

Recommended preparation

You should be familiar with most of the following topics. Courses in paranthesis cover these topics, but other courses may prepare you as well.

1. Structure of proteins and other biological polymers ( BIOL 200, BIOC 405 or 440) 2. Cell biology/cellular physiology (BIOL 200, BIOEN 304,305, 588, or 589) 3. Physics, especially mechanics ( PHYS 121) 4. Chemistry, especially thermodynamics and chemical kinetics (CHEM 152, 452, 453, 457, 477, or 552) 5. Basic Statistics or Probability ( STAT 390, or biostatistics) 6. Calculus and ordinary differential equations (MATH 307 or 401) However, this is an interdisciplinary field and the instructor will often review material and can recommend background reading if necessary. If you are not sure if you meet the prerequisites for this course, you should the instructor.

Class assignments and grading

Homework: Homework will be quantitative problems taken from the text, and analysis of some of the literature papers.

Exams: The first unit will be followed by an in-class open-book mid-term designed to test your ability to utilize the material.

Final Project: Final project will be an analysis of a current problem in molecular biomechanics. This analysis can consist of a discussion of the current literature, or can focus on a simulation or theoretical model, either original or duplicated from a paper. However, the project must have aspects of both literature review to assess the relevance of the project, and quantitative analysis using some of the tools used in the class.

weekly homework 30% exam 30% final project 30% class participation 10%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Wendy Thomas
Date: 03/24/2005