Course Information


Semester 1

BS7002: Foundation Course in Structural, Chemical, and Computational Biology

The aim of this course is to ensure the graduate students to have fundamental knowledge on topics of structural and computational biology. Topics covered include: computational tools in bioinformatics, biological databases, combinatorial libraries, structural prediction of proteins, biophysical principle of biomolecular assembly, and enzymatic mechanisms. Each topic will be covered in two 2-hr sessions in consecutive weeks.
BS7002 are organized concurrently to suit the schedule of the academic staff.
The course is compulsory for all PhD and MSc students in SBS.

The course will be accredited 3 AU and an examination will be conducted in the examination period of each semester.

BS7003: School Seminar Series

A series of seminars will be arranged to provide the graduate students a broad view on cutting edge research in the biological sciences. Speakers invited are faculty members of local universities, principle investigators of research institutes, and overseas visiting academics.


The students are required to attend 12 seminars and to submit reports on 3 of the seminars, summarizing the work, key experiments and conclusions. Students are also required to participate in a weekly discussion session, led by a faculty member of SBS, on the subject matter presented. Registered students must attend at least 9 out of the 12 discussion classes.

Each report is limited to two A4 pages (double spaced), and will be graded by their respective supervisors (or by other SBS staff agreeable to their supervisors) and reviewed by the Associate Chair (Research).

In order to keep the discussion sessions manageable and constructive, the class size is limited to 20 people.

The course will be accredited 3 AU. There will be no formal examination for this course. Grades will be awarded based on the reports, oral presentation and attendance.

BS7109 (BS409): Special Topics in Structural Biology

The course objective is to acquire a firm grounding in structural biology that can serve as a tool for both understanding the basis of biological activity as well as conducting research in the biological sciences.


Biology students of today are commonly faced with challenges that require an understanding of physics and chemistry, because contemporary research in the biological sciences is highly interdisciplinary and is becoming only increasingly more so. To answer the most important biological questions of today, one must generally entertain multiple methodologies with the strongest coverage coming from addressing, for example, structural, molecular and cellular angles of a problem at the same time. As such, this course is aimed at providing an in depth understanding of three-dimensional macromolecular structure and the relationship between the conformation of proteins and nucleic acids with the biological activities of recognition, transport, signalling, and catalysis. We cover timely issues related to multi-molecular assemblies, catalytic machines, and membrane proteins, utilizing computer graphics for a profound visualization of biological function.

Learning Outcome

  1. Students can visualize and analyse macromolecular structures using molecular graphics software.
  2. Given the known function of a macromolecule (protein, DNA, RNA or protein-nucleic acid complex), the student can conduct an assessment of the molecule in 3-D to understand the structural and chemical basis of its activity.


  1. Protein Structure and Function;Petsko & Ringe; 2004; New Science Press.
  2. Principles of Nucleic Acid Structure; Neidle; 2008; Academic Press.
  3. Biochemistry (4th Edition); Voet, Voet; 2011; John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Bioinorganic Chemistry (A Short Course; 2nd Edition); Rosette M. Roat-Malone; 2007; John Wiley & Sons (Wiley-Interscience).
  5. Introduction to Macromolecular Crystallography (2nd Edition); Alexander McPherson; 2009; John Wiley & Sons (Wiley-Liss).

BS7405 (BS405): Current Topics in muscle biology and neuromuscular diseases

The aims and objectives of the course are to gain in depth knowledge in

  • skeletal muscle biology
  • its development and disease that affect muscles
  • Muscle stem cells and its applications
  • Gene therapy


The syllabus includes the study of prenatal and post natal Myogenesis, satellite cell biology. Neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy and other muscle wasting disease such as cachexia, sarcopenia will also be discussed. Stem cells biology and its applications as gene/cell based therapies is also a part of study. Tutorials will be mainly intended for discussions on latest concepts of the subject matter.
This course will be accredited 3 AUs. A formal examination will be conducted at the end of the semester.

BS7406 (BS406): Current Topics in Cell Biology

Through presentations and discussions of current topics in cell biology, we hope that students will have the opportunity to explore the up-to-dated knowledge and advanced techniques in cell biology research. In addition, this course will help students to develop the ability in evaluating experiments critically and stimulating their creative thinking.


The lectures will provide in-depth insight into different topics in cell biology, such as cell cycle regulation, cell cycle checkpoint, mitosis, cytoskeleton, cell signaling, nuclear transport, protein dynamic, gene silencing, chromosomes dynamic and chromosome remodeling. The lectures will also cover advance techniques in modern cell biology research such as computational cell biology
This course will be accredited 3 AUs. A formal examination will be conducted at the end of the semester

BS7408 (BS408): Current Topics in Immunology

Selected topics in immunology will be covered in greater depth. This course requires students to perform literature searches and reading of original publications and review articles on selected areas in immunology. Students are also required to participate actively in small group discussions, presentations, and report writings


This Course will cover topics such as immunogenetics, the protein chemistry of complement, the molecular basis of leukocyte adhesion and migration, the role and regulation of protein kinases in immune responses, evasion of host immune response by pathogens, the biology of cytokines, producing nature’s protein chips: the MHCs and processing, the immune scavengers: macrophages and dendritic cells, transplantation immunology, and tumour immunity. Topics are subjected to changes.
This course will be accredited 3 AUs. A formal examination will be conducted at the end of the semester

BS7415 (BS414) From Systems Biology to Synthetic Biology

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to understand the current research in the emerging fields of systems biology, synthetic biology and artificial life.


These research fields are the emerging interdisciplinary scientific researches that combine cell biology, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, mathematics, computing and engineering for discovery of novel principles underlying the function of living cells. Systems biology employs mathematical models and mines data from high throughput experiments to create testable and predictive models of complex cellular pathways and networks. Synthetic biology builds on the knowledge of systems biology and engineering principles to construct and standardize biological parts for creation of more complex systems and artificial life. These research areas will engender many potential applications in the biomedical, material science and energy sectors.

The course materials are compiled from current high impact primary literatures. Both experimental and basic computational approaches will be covered; However, mathematics will be minimized to cater to the average biological sciences undergraduate student.

  • High throughput experimental methods for systems biology
  • Basic computational methods for systems modeling
  • Yeast systems biology
  • Systems biology and biomedical applications
  • Foundations of synthetic biology
  • Techniques in synthetic biology
  • Programming bacteria/artificial life
  • Bioethics and Biosecurity in synthetic biology/artificial life
  • Group project/oral presentation

This course will be accredited 3 AUs. A formal examination will be conducted at the end of the semester.