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Molecular biophysics is an interdisciplinary area of research situated at the intersection of molecular biology, chemistry, chemical biology, and molecular physics. Molecular biophysics, as a field of endeavor, is distinguished by analytical and quantitative research inquiry based on molecular and macromolecular structures, diverse molecular spectroscopic methods, biophysical chemistry, functional bioenergetics, statistical thermodynamics, and molecular dynamics. Topics of active research interest by University faculty in molecular biophysics include protein structures and folding, molecular models of enzyme mechanisms, protein-DNA and protein-RNA interactions, and the nature of gene expression and regulation at the molecular level. As a consequence of recent advances stemming from the human genome project, the field of structural bioinformatics finds an increasingly important emphasis in our program. A parent organization for this field of research is the U.S.-based Biophysical Society, with some 7,000 members, with sister societies worldwide.

In addition to satisfying departmental requirements, all participating students, undergraduate and graduate, engage in independent research projects under the direction of participating faculty and participate regularly in weekly meetings of the Molecular Biophysics Journal Club, in which research papers from the current literature are presented and discussed. Journal club students also meet regularly with seminar visitors in the area of molecular biophysics. Undergraduate and graduate students are also expected to present (either orally or with a poster) at the annual molecular biophysics retreat. At Wesleyan, students participating in the molecular biophysics program have the opportunity to select research projects with varying degrees of emphasis on biophysics, biochemistry, biological chemistry, and molecular biology. The common element among participants is an emphasis on a quantitative, molecular-based mode of inquiry in research. Students are also encouraged to present their work at an international scientific meeting, and the program typically provides some financial support for their expenses.

Undergraduate students majoring in chemistry and/or molecular biology and biochemistry (MB&B) can choose to obtain a Certificate in Molecular Biophysics. The certification program involves following the prescribed major in each department. Within the chemistry and MB&B majors, students are expected to take the following courses to fulfill major requirements (note: all courses are cross-listed):

MB&B/CHEM395 Structural Biology Laboratory 1
MB&B/CHEM383 Biochemistry 1
Select one of the following: 1-2
Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences
Physical Chemistry I: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy
and Physical Chemistry II: Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, and Kinetics
Molecular Biophysics Journal Club I
and Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II

In both the MB&B and chemistry majors students must take either two (MB&B) or three (CHEM) elective courses to complete the major. To achieve certification, students must choose their elective courses in the area of molecular biophysics. Elective courses can be chosen from a set of courses offered by participating faculty (see course cluster). In addition, students must do independent research for at least two semesters under the direction of one of the program faculty. It is possible to be jointly mentored; however, at least one mentor must be a faculty participant in the molecular biophysics program.

Graduate students in chemistry, physics, or the life sciences may elect to participate in the interdisciplinary program in molecular biophysics. Program participants pursue a course of study and research that often overlaps the disciplinary boundaries of chemistry, biology, molecular biology, and physics. Graduate training opportunities are available for students with undergraduate background in any one of these areas. Individualized programs of study are provided so that each student obtains the necessary interdisciplinary background for advanced study and research in molecular biophysics.

Interested students should contact Professor Ishita Mukerji at imukerji@wesleyan.edu.