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Structural Biology and Biophysics MSc

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  • Objectives
    We aim to train a new generation of scientists capable of developing new methods in structural biology and biophysics and pushing frontiers forward. This means bringing computer scientists, chemists and physicists in touch with biologists to find out what problems need to be addressed. An integrated multidisciplinary training will allow students from different backgrounds to interact and acquire broader knowledge and expertise, and to become a new generation of professional scientists. -To achieve this there are three main objectives: -To provide a broad introduction to the different techniques employed in structural and biophysical characterisation of macromolecules -To develop practical, data handling and communication skills required to undertake structural and biophysics research -To develop good practice in the design, management and writing up of experimental research projects
  • Entry requirements
    Entry requirements: Applicants should hold (or be about to obtain) a first or upper second class honours degree, or the overseas equivalent, in a biological, chemical or physical sciences subject.
  • Academic Title
    Structural Biology and Biophysics MSc
  • Course description
    Course description

    Structural and biophysical analyses are essential in understanding modern biology and cellular processes. This multidisciplinary research area combines both solution and solid-state techniques to provide a broad approach to the study of biochemical mechanisms, macromolecular structures and assemblies such as viruses.

    The importance of structural biology is evidenced by the increasing number of scientific publications and the major investment provided by funding agencies around the world. The new synchrotron light source at Diamond, represents a major funding effort to promote structural and biophysical research in the UK. Structural genomic initiatives have also triggered an exponential growth in this area meaning that there is an urgent need for more professional training to absorb the higher demand in academic and private sectors worldwide.

    The Faculty of Life Sciences has an excellent representation of high quality research groups whose main emphasis is the application of structural biology and biophysical techniques to biologically important problems such as mechanistic enzymology, biological membranes, cell signalling and cell-matrix interactions. Our research is supported by state-of-the-art facilities at the Michael Smith Building (crystallisation and X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, biomolecular analysis and fermentation facility) and the newly established Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB). This offers the opportunity to benefit from a broad expertise in a number of techniques and to apply them to approach biological questions.

    Module details
    Introduction to core concepts: Introduction to the fundamental theoretical principles of the core and supporting techniques used in modern structural and biophysical analyses of macromolecules. This will include principles of X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, electron microscopy, small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS).

    Development of advanced skills: Students will be exposed to practical aspects of a wide range of structural and biophysical techniques. They will have the opportunity to work on the structure determination and analysis of proteins and complexes with ligands  through applied case studies. The students will be introduced to the way in which a structure-based drug development programme works in a pharmaceutical industry and how crystallography is used to approach the design of specific inhibitors of a pharmaceutical target. Specific seminars from researchers at Industry and Academia will focus on recent developments and new challenges in the field.

    Research projects: Engaging in full-time research in active laboratories is a key part of this programme.  Each student will undertake 2 full-time research projects, of 14 weeks duration each.  The strength and breadth of structural biology research in Life Sciences allows us to offer students an exceptionally diverse and exciting range of options.

    Communication skills: Critical discussion of seminars and development of presentation skills. Research skills will be further promoted by attendance to scientific seminars and by presentations of the research work.

    Course content for year 1

    Semester 1 : Weeks 1-12.
    -Computer tutorial: "Structural and Biophysical methods"           
    -Taught course:  "Introduction to Bioinformatics/Theory and Algorithms"
    -Seminars

    Semester 2 : Weeks 13-28
    -Computer tutorial: " Rational structure-based drug design "
    -Seminars

    Research projects

    -First research project (14 weeks) November to Easter.
    -Second research project (14 weeks) May to August.

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