98-99 University Bulletin Entry for:

Bioorganic Chemistry

(file last updated: [8/10/1998 - 15:21:34])


Graduate Program in BioorganicChemistry

The interdepartmental graduateprogram in bioorganic chemistry, leading to the degree of doctorof philosophy, is designed to give students a broad backgroundin organic chemistry and in biochemistry, and to provide an appreciationfor, and expertise in, the multiple disciplines that are currentlybeing applied to problems at the interface of organic chemistryand biology. The program combines research opportunities in organicsynthesis, organic reaction mechanisms, enzyme structure and function,molecular recognition, and structure determination of peptidesand nucleic acids by X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy.Thesis research will be carried out with two advisors, in accordancewith the multidisciplinary aspects of bioorganic chemistry.

How to Be Admitted tothe Graduate Program

The general requirements foradmission to the Graduate School are listed in an earlier sectionof this Bulletin. Applicants are normally expected to havestrong backgrounds in physical or biological science, with undergraduateconcentrations in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, or pharmacology.Applications should include, in addition to three letters of reference,a personal statement giving reasons for choosing the field ofbioorganic chemistry and indicating areas of special interest.Applicants are expected to take the Graduate Record Exam and areencouraged to visit Brandeis for an interview.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Thomas Pochapsky, Chair


Lizbeth Hedstrom


James Hendrickson


Melissa Moore


Daniel Oprian


Gregory Petsko

(Biochemistry and Chemistry)

Dagmar Ringe

(Biochemistry and Chemistry)

Barry Snider


Requirements for the Degreeof Doctor of Philosophy

Program of Study

Each doctoral candidate mustsuccessfully complete seven courses. All participants in the programwill take BCHM 101a, 101b, CHEM 134b, and either 131a or 133a.Students must also take at least one course dealing with spectroscopyor crystallographic methods; choices include CHEM 132b, 229b,and 235b. An additional course will be chosen from the offeringsof the chemistry and biochemistry departments. Students are alsorequired to take CONT 300b (Ethical Practice in Health-RelatedSciences). First-year students undertake six, six-week laboratoryrotations in different laboratories in the program. In the courseof their graduate career, students will present three seminarsin the organic chemistry and biochemistry programs and one seminarin the bioorganic program. Thesis research is performed underthe direction of two faculty members in different fields of expertiseso that students will gain expertise in more than one discipline.

Financial Support

Graduate students generallyreceive financial support (tuition and stipend) throughout theirparticipation in the graduate program.


Students participate as teachingassistants for two terms.

Language Requirement

Students are required to showproficiency in the use of a commonly used software package (e.g.,QUANTA, MM2) and operating system (e.g., UNIX, VMS).

Residence Requirement

The minimum residence requirementfor the Ph.D. degree is three years.

Qualifying Examinations

At the end of the first year,students will develop and defend an original proposition for aresearch problem in his or her area of interest. In addition,students must demonstrate general knowledge of bioorganic chemistryby passing a comprehensive examination. Students are expectedto have completed this requirement by the end of the third year.This general knowledge outside the student's own field of specializationmust be demonstrated to the satisfaction of a committee of threefaculty members appointed by the Student Advisory Committee.

Dissertation and ThesisDefense

Each doctoral candidate willsubmit a dissertation describing his or her research and willdefend it in a Final Oral Examination.

Courses of Instruction

(200 and above) Primarilyfor Graduate Students

BIOC 200a,b Bioorganic Seminar

Usually offered every year.


BIOC 303d Lab Rotations

CONT 300b Ethical Practicein Health-Related Sciences

Required of all first-yeargraduate students in health-related science programs. Not forcredit.

Scientists are becoming increasinglyaware of the importance of addressing ethical issues and valuesassociated with scientific research. This course, taught by Universityfaculty from several graduate disciplines, will cover major ethicalissues germane to the broader scientific enterprise, includingareas or applications from a number of fields of study. Lecturesand relevant case studies will be complemented by two public lecturesduring the course. Usually offered every year.

Ms. Ringe

Cross-Listed Courses

BCHM 101a

Advanced Biochemistry I

BCHM 101b

Advanced Biochemistry II

BCHM 104b

Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules

BCHM 202b

Chemistry of Enzyme-CatalyzedReactions

CHEM 111a

Computational Chemistry

CHEM 131a

Advanced Organic Chemistry:Topics in Structure and Reactivity

CHEM 132b

Advanced Organic Chemistry:Spectroscopy

CHEM 134b

Advanced Organic Chemistry:Synthesis

CHEM 137b

The Chemistry of Organic NaturalProducts

CHEM 229b

Special Topics in InorganicChemistry: Introduction to X-ray Structure Determination

CHEM 235b

Advanced NMR Spectroscopy