Casimir Course - Biology for Physicists 2015



14:00 - 16:00 hrs on September 22, 25, 29, October 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 28.


Room F070, TU Delft, Applied Sciences (building 22), Lorentzweg 1, Delft


Instructor: Greg Bokinsky

Teaching Assistant: Jakub Wiktor

Guest Lecturers: Jakub Wiktor, Adi Ananth, Mohamed Fareh, Yaron Caspi, Mathijs Vleugel

Description: Our goal is to introduce scientists with little biological background to several basic topics in molecular biology, as described from a biologist’s perspective. We will also discuss related papers from the recent literature. This will provide a taste of not only how biology works, but also how biological experiments are performed, and the sorts of complications biology experiments often encounter. 

Please read the Background Reading before you come to class, as you will learn a great deal more from the lecture. Attending the lectures alone will not teach you biology!

Each class (after the first class) will start with a 45 minute lecture given by the instructor, which will be followed by a student presentation of a scientific paper drawn from the literature. The paper will be relevant to the previous lecture’s topic (see Syllabus for paper list and order). All participants will read the paper and prepare two questions for the discussion. 

Topics include: Evolution and Horizontal Gene Transfer; Gene Expression; Proteins and Enzymes; Metabolism; Genetic Engineering and synthetic biology; Microbial Ecology; DNA Replication; Membrane transport and the nuclear pore complex; RNA Interference;  Building a synthetic cell; and the cytoskeleton.

Assessment: Pass/Fail grades will be given based on the student presentation and discussion (50%), discussion preparation (25%); and passing quizzes covering the background reading assignments (25%). Attendance at all sessions is required to pass, though absences due to exceptional circumstances are allowed.

Background reading: participants will receive an URL where the required reading can be downloaded.


Course dates: Every Tuesday afternoon and every Friday afternoon from September 22 through October 23, and Wednesday 28. So the course dates are: September 22, 25, 30, October 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 28. All sessions are from 2:00 until 4:00 pm.

Location: Room F070, Applied Sciences (building 22), Lorentzweg 1, Delft. Please note: October 28 in room D104!

Credits: 5 GSC.

Registration: This course has started, it is not possible to register anymore.