BIOPHYS 440 001 FA 2020

Biophysics of Disease


Instructor Magdalena Ivanova


Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Christian Kelley




The course will introduce the most commonly used biophysical methods for studying complex diseases and developing therapies. The emphasis will be on protein aggregation diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and prion), but diseases like cancer, viral (HIV, SARS-CoV-2) and bacterial infections will be also discussed. Classical biophysical methods like x-ray crystallography, NMR and cryoEM will be covered, as well as, recently emerging cutting-edge techniques. Some lectures will be presented by invited speakers who will talk about their studies of disease mechanisms for which they apply a combination of biophysical, biochemical and molecular techniques.


Reading and Materials

Multiple sources will be used for the class, and each lecture will have a list of the specific materials covered in class. Information about the covered techniques can be found in the textbooks listed below. These materials are recommended, but not required.


  1. Methods in Molecular Biophysics: Structure, Dynamics, Function (Cambridge University Press, 2007), by Serdyuk, Igor N.; Zaccai, Nathan R.; Zaccai, Joseph ISBN-10:052181524X
  2. Biophysics: tools and techniques (CRC Press, 2016) Mark LeakeExperimental
  3. Biophysics: Biological Methods for Physical Scientists, (CRC Press, 2017, by Jay L. Nadeau
  4. Protein NMR spectroscopy: principles and practice. (Academic Press, 2006), by Cavanagh, J., Fairbrother, W.J., Palmer III, A.G., Rance, M., and Skelton, N.J. ISBN-10:012164491X
  5. NMR for Physical and Biological Scientists1st Edition (2006, Garland Science) by Pochapsky, Thomas; Pochapsky, Susan Sondej) ISBN-10: 0815341032
  6. Crystallography made crystal clear. A guide for users of macromolecular models (Academic Press, 2006) by Gale Rhodes ISBN-10:0125870736
  7. Three-Dimensional Electron Microscopy of Macromolecular Assemblies: Visualization of Biological Molecules in Their Native State2nd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2006) by Joachim Frank, ISBN-10: 0195182189


Class Schedule

M,W 8:30am-10:00am

In-person class location

Room 1400 Chemistry Building

Remote Lectures


Recorded lectures will be uploaded on Pages/Lecture Videos

Lecture files (pdf format) will be posted in Files/Lectures


Troubles connecting virtually

Email Christian or post on Canvas Chat that you have difficulties connecting/viewing the lecture synchronously.


Office hours

Magdalena Ivanova    Time: TBD      Location:

Christian Kelley           Time: TBD      Location: TBD

Please note that office hours won’t be recorded.


In-person class

            Students who are registered to take the class in-person are not obligated to attend the class in-person and can switch to remote format any time.

All of us who are attending the class in-person are expected to follow the required safety measures and guidelines of the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan. This includes sanitizing their work areas, maintaining 6 feet or more of personal distance, wearing a face covering that covers the mouth and nose in all public spaces, and not coming to class when ill or in quarantine. If you have any questions about in-person attendance, please contact us.


Remote class

Students who are registered to take the class remotely must attend the lectures virtually. Please contact us, in case you want to switch to in-person attendance. We (Christian and I) need to make sure that the room capacity is compliant with the requirements for safe distancing.

Lectures will be recorded real time for synchronous and posted on Canvas for asynchronous viewing.


In-person/remote class

Students who are registered for remote or in-person class can choose to attend the class asynchronously any time. All lectures will be recorded and posted on Canvas for asynchronous viewing. We highly recommend the remote attendees to attend synchronously as this will allow a more active engagement.

            All class assignments, exams, and quizzes will be posted on Canvas and can be taken synchronously or asynchronously within the specified times.

It is critical that all of you keep up with the lectures and the assignments from the beginning of the term. If you opt for asynchronous attendance, please make sure you view the class materials (lectures, assignments etc) within 24 hours of posting.

Please make sure that all of you are familiarized with the guidelines for safe distancing:


Students who do not intend to keep with the course should drop it so that the spot is available for other students, and we will have an accurate course roster. This class currently has 10 students on the wait list.


Course recording

All course lectures will be audio/video recorded and made available to the students taking the class. As part of your participation in this course, you may be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded, please contact me or Christian the first week of class to discuss alternative arrangements.

Students are prohibited from recording/distributing any class activity without written permission from the instructor, except as necessary as part of approved accommodations for students with disabilities. Any approved recordings may only be used for the student’s own private use.


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you need an accommodation for a disability, please let me know at your earliest convenience. You may also need to contact the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office (734-763-3000; which typically recommends accommodations through a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. Please be aware that exams need to be scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance. Any information you provide is private and confidential and will be treated as such.


Religious holidays

          Please let us know if you have conflicts with the examination dates

Course Summary:

Date Details Due