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Biochemistry Capstone: Project Guidelines

The Goal

Use the biochemical principles we have learned throughout the course to develop and present a poster that explains the function of a biomolecule (or biomolecular complex), as well as its role in human disease.

The Timeline

  • Mid-November: Receive group assignments and instructions  
    • Explore candidate topics/diseases/biomolecules using online resources detailed below and in Brightspace.
    • Select your topic/disease/biomolecule and notify Prof. Henderson-Stull of choice by email  
  • Thanksgiving Break: Discuss your poster topic with a non-science-major friend or family member over break  
  • December 2: Draft of poster for peer review and feedback  
  • Between December 1-6: Schedule half-hour meeting with Prof. Henderson-Stull for feedback on poster drafts  
  • No later than December 8: Print your poster and email final PDF to Prof. Henderson-Stull  

Friday, Dec. 10, 10am - 12 pm: Poster presentation!  

What to Include in the Poster

  • A structural representation of the molecule or complex, clearly identifying residues/structural features important to its function (active site, binding, etc.) and pathology (mutations, modification sites, etc.)   

  • At least one figure with data reporting on the molecule's biochemical function, ideally under normal and disease-associated conditions (e.g., enzyme kinetics, binding affinity measurements)   

  • A diagram depicting the biological process in which the molecule participates, highlighting (as possible) the features relevant to the molecule's normal role and, where possible, what is altered in the disease and through treatment/intervention   

  • A section highlighting the human aspect of the patient experience, describing symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the condition  

  • Relevant connections and additional information that enhance the story  

  • Where appropriate, concise bullet points that summarize key messages  

  • References to at least 2 literature reviews and 3 primary-literature articles  

Topic Selection

For some potentially helpful resources, visit the "Online Resources" tab. 

Hints

  • Maximize what you can tell with the figures using labels on the figures and bullet points to replace narrative text.  

  • Minimize extraneous information that does not pertain to the story—e.g. simplify complicated figures to only include what is relevant.  

  • Conceptualize your own original figures that provide the framework for what the viewer needs to know to follow your story.  

  • Express your creativity and humor, as long as it's appropriate and enhances the flow, clarity and relevance of the information.  

When thinking about your molecule’s molecular structure, consider:  

  • Molecule’s name and pdb code  

  • Catalytic and/or binding-site residues  

  • Other functionally important residues  

  • Relevant mutations  

  • Images you might like to create in a structural image viewer  

When thinking about your molecule’s biochemical function consider:  

  • The molecule's normal biochemical functions  

  • The assay(s) used to demonstrate that molecule’s activity  

  • The molecule’s requirements for activity (cofactor, ATP, conditions...)  

  • The molecule’s biochemical interactions (binding partner, substrate, membrane...)  

  • Figures that help to explain/demonstrate these functions  

  • Biochemical data that illuminate the difference between normal and disease conditions   

When thinking about your molecule’s biological function consider:  

  • The overall biological process the molecule is involved in  

  • The specific step the molecule is involved in  

  • The pathway’s normal mechanism  

  • The mechanism by which the molecule's impairment affects the pathway  

  • What is still unknown about the molecule’s biological function(s)  

When thinking about your molecule’s connection to human disease consider:  

  • Effects/symptoms of the disease  

  • How the condition is diagnosed, in particular, biochemical tests  

  • Risk factors of the disease, if any exist  

  • Cellular and tissue-level effects and the assay(s) used to characterize those effects  

  • Current drugs/treatment: efficacy and side effects  

  • What is still unknown about the physiological/health/disease impact