Updated: 29 November, 2005
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BIO 294G
- Seminar in Cell Biology; Monday: 16:00 hours to 16:50 hours

INTRO

Modern cell biology is a dynamic discipline that integrates the interests of a variety of scientific fields including molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology, physiology, developmental biology, cytology and genetics -- fields that were once almost completely independent of each other. Cell biologists are at the core of scientific research, investigating the basic structural and functional units of life: cells that compose all living organisms. Once reliant primarily on microscopic methods, experimental approaches in cell biology now take advantage of ultrastructure as well as biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, and utilize a diverse range of model organisms.

COURSE STRUCTURE

Bio 294G does not attempt to cover all aspects of cell biology, and is therefore not appropriate for students seeking a lecture course that provides a comprehensive survey of the field. Rather, the primary objective of this course is to teach those students considering a career in the biomedical sciences how to read, discuss, and question research papers effectively. Intensive classroom discussions focus on the experimental methods used, results obtained, interpretation of these results in the context of cell structure and function, and implications for further studies. There is no assigned text; each week members of the class will be assigned one compulsory paper, and one other paper of the students' choosing based on the syllabus, to read and critique by the following week. Two students will be asked to modulate and present to the class the essential finding from the assigned papers each week. Students are to learn to critically evaluate current literature by reading original papers on selected topics in modern cell biology. Accordingly, class participation/discussion is essential and the grade will be largely determined by that. In addition, there will be two exams and you will be asked to write no more than a 5-page paper critiquing a recent original paper that is selected on some topic in Cell Biology. Each of these papers should be related to one of the topics we covered but not one we discussed. It is due as indicated below on the syllabus. You may be asked to hand in some homework assignments from time to time. These will be designed to induce you to think as you read the assigned papers.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Michael Hanson's Pocket Guide on 'Efficient Reading of Papers in Science and Technology



The required reading material may be downloaded by clicking on the appropriate topic below:

Meeting Date
Topic of Assigned Cell Biology Paper Support Material
29 Aug 2005
Introductions and Course Overview  
12 Sept 2005
Cells and Organelles Reading Papers-Guide 1
19 Sept 2005
Membrane Structure, Function and Chemistry  
26 Sept 2005
Membrane Transport  
3 Oct 2005
Messengers and Receptors Reading Papers-Guide 2; Graduate Guide
10 Oct 2005

Intracellular Compartments
Apply the full Hanson protocol to this entire research paper. Time yourselves for each of the 4 parts.

 
17 Oct 2005
Glycolysis and Fermentation Reading Papers-Guide 3
24 Oct 2005
Photosynthesis: Commence Assignment 1 Assignment 1: Write a critical review on either the Glycolysis and Fermentation paper OR Photosynthesis paper, utilising any one of the three paper reading guides presented above.
31 Oct 2005
Submit Assignment 1 : Cellular Information: DNA, Chromosomes and the Nucleus I have added a review paper here as it adds to the topic we were debating in class.
7 Nov 2005
The Cell Cycle, DNA Replication, Mitosis and Cancer Critique this paper. Reading Papers-Guide 4
14 Nov 2005

Sexual Reproduction, Meiosis and Genetic Variability

Commence Assignment 2

Critique this paper and try using a figure or flowchart to understand the interconnections.

Also Assignment 2 paper is HERE.

21 Nov 2005
The Genetic Code and Transcription  
28 Nov 2005
Protein Synthesis and Sorting Please draw either a flow chart or diagram whilst reading this paper. Please bring this chart to the class next Monday.
5 Dec 2005
The Regulation of Gene Expression: Will be presented on 5th Dec too, but the class is not required to read this.
12 Dec 2005
Submit Assignment 2  

 

GRADING
TOTAL 100%
Course Attendance and Participation 60%
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 30%


A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO THE TERMINOLOGY OF SCIENTIFIC PAPERS

In each couplet, the first is the phrase as it appears in the scientific literature; the second is the translation as to what it *really* means:

It has long been known that...
I haven't bothered to look up the original reference.

It is believed that...
I think...

It is generally believed that...
A couple of other guys think so, too.

It is not unreasonable to assume...
If you don't believe this, you might as well stop reading here.

A preliminary examination revealed...
One of my grad students pointed this out to me.

Four samples were chosen for further study.
The others didn't make sense, so we ignored them.

Results from the third sample may be of somewhat lower confidence...
I dropped it on the floor.

.....but are consistent with the data obtained from the other samples.
.....but scooped most of it up.

Handled with extreme care during the entire procedure...
NOT dropped on the floor...

Typical results are shown.
The best results are shown.

Correct within an order of magnitude...
Wrong

Not inconsistent with other determinations, given our current limited understanding of this field...
Meaningless

The significance of these results is unclear.
Look at the pretty artifact.

It might be argued that...
I have such a devastating rebuttal to this argument that I shall now deliberately raise it.

We are unable to reconcile our results with those of Hackenbush, but...
Here comes some richly deserved character assassination.

While it has not been possible to provide definitive answers to these questions...
The experiment didn't prove anything, but at least I can publish the data somewhere.

Much additional work will be required.
The paper isn't very good, but neither is anyone else's.

Of great theoretical importance..
I got a paper out of it.

Of great practical importance as well..
I got a grant out of it, too.

These investigations proved highly rewarding..
My grant is going to be renewed.

Thanks are due to Joe Blow for laboratory assistance and to Jane Doe for many valuable discussions...
Joe did all the work, and Jane explained it to me.

A definite trend is evident..
.....These data are practically meaningless.

These results will be shown in a subsequent report..
.....I might get around to this if I'm pushed.

The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones...
.....He was my graduate student.

It is clear that additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon occurs...
.....I don't understand it.

It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field...
.....This is a lousy paper, but so are all the others on this miserable topic.

A careful analysis of the available data...
.....Three pages of original notes were obliterated when I knocked over a beer.

A statistically oriented projection of the significance of the findings...
.....Wild guess.

A highly significant area for exploratory study...
.....A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

 


 

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