This Course at MIT

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This Course at MIT pages are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 5.07 Biological Chemistry I as it is typically taught at MIT. John Essigmann, Professor of Chemistry & Biological Engineering and Director of the MIT Center for Environmental Health, and JoAnne Stubbe, Professor of Chemistry & Biology and National Medal of Science recipient, share their insights about the pedagogy behind this core learning experience for MIT chemistry majors.

Taught through lectures and recitations, this course examines the chemical and physical properties of the cell and its building blocks, with special emphasis on the structures of proteins and principles of catalysis, as well as the chemistry of organic/inorganic cofactors required for chemical transformations within the cell. Topics encompass the basic principles of metabolism and regulation in pathways, including glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis/degradation, pentose phosphate pathway, Krebs cycle and oxidative phosphorylation.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Gain an introduction to all the chemical players of life, their structures and chemistry and, consequently, their function.
  • Learn about the central pathways of metabolism.
  • Understand how pathways are regulated and integrated under different environmental conditions.
 

Meet the Educators

My interests have been in chemicals from the environment ... and how they interact with biological systems. 

—John Essigmann

In the following videos, Professors JoAnne Stubbe and John Essigmann describe how they became interested in biological chemistry and share what they focus on in their research.

JoAnne Stubbe

 John Essigmann

Instructor Insights

The morphological unit of life is the cell, whether you're a flea or you're an elephant.

—JoAnne Stubbe

Professors JoAnne Stubbe and John Essigmann sat down with George Zaidan, a former 5.07 Biological Chemistry student, to discuss how they teach the course. The following videos capture excerpts of their conversations.  

JoAnne Stubbe

 John Essigmann

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

5.12 Organic Chemistry I

Requirements Satisfied

Offered

Every fall semester

The Classroom

  • Lecture hall with green tablet armchairs arranged in tiered groups (capacity for over 100 students). Armchairs are facing the sliding chalkboards. Two tables are in front of the chalkboards. Three white screens are near the chalkboards.

    Lecture

    Lectures typically take place in a classroom with tiered tablet armchairs, sliding chalkboards, and AV equipment.

  • Classroom with narrow tables arranged in rows. Black chairs arranged behind each row of tables. Chalkboards on the front and side walls.

    Recitation

    Recitations take place in smaller classrooms equipped with chalkboards and flexible seating.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by weekly problem sets. 8% Weekly problem sets
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by weekly quizzes. 8% Weekly quizzes
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by 3 closed book, closed note exams. 50% Closed book, closed note exams (3)
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by final exam. 34% Final exam

Student Information

70 students took this course when it was offered in Fall 2013.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly sophomores and juniors

Breakdown by Major

Nearly all of the roughly 20 chemistry majors per year take 5.07. The largest constituency, however, is chemical engineering students.

Typical Student Background

Students who take 5.07 tend to have strong backgrounds in, and enjoy, organic chemistry. Most of the students want to go into either medicine or graduate school in advance of a career in either the drug industry or academics.

 

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students are expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Lecture

3 hours per week
  • Meet 3 times per week for 1 hour per session.
  • During lectures, the instructor introduces core concepts, often illustrating the concepts with examples.
 

Recitation

2 hours per week
  • Meet 2 times per week for 1 hour per session.
  • In recitations, an instructor or teaching assistant elaborates on concepts presented in lecture, working through new examples with student participation, and answers questions.
 

Out of Class

7 hours per week
  • Outside of class, students prepare for exams and complete readings and problem sets.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
2 Lecture scheduled and problem set due Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
3 Lecture scheduled and problem set due Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled No classes throughout MIT.
4 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
5 No lecture, time off for exam Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
6 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
7 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
8 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
9 No lecture, time off for exam Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
10 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
11 No classes throughout MIT. Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
12 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
13 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled No lecture, time off for exam No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
14 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
15 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are held. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when problem sets are due. Problem set due date
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held, instead of lectures. No lecture, time off for exam