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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2003

T C 357 • Epidemiology, Microbiology, and Probelm Solving-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
40630 W
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
SEA 3.250

Course Description

This course will show you how to combine molecular biology, problem solving, and epidemiology into creative and testable research ideas. The Fall 2003 focus is on Werner Syndrome, a rare disease that causes premature aging. The first half of the semester is devoted to lectures, class exercises, information gathering, and the generation of ideas. Lecture topics include: how to use problem solving to get creative research ideas; how to get clues about causation by thinking like a disease; the physical and molecular bases of Werner Syndrome; how to find and analyze diseases through the study of homologs/orthologs, protein domains, amino acid composition, three-dimensional structural models, and other methods. I intend this course to be interesting and fun. My goal is not for you to become an expert in Werner Syndrome, but rather to give you an introduction to methods that you can use as a guide to future study. This course may be the only one of its kind in the country and should increase your attractiveness to medical schools and research oriented graduate programs.

About the Professor: Professor Lewis came to the University of Texas Psychology Department from Case Western Reserve University in 1978 and is currently the Co-Director of Clinical Psychology. Two years ago he was one of sixteen people in the world selected to attend the Yeast Genetics course at James Watson’s Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor; last year he was one of twenty to win a fellowship to attend the Molecular Biology of Aging Course in Woods Hole, funded by the Ellison Medical Foundation. He is currently conducting research looking at the causes of Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria, a rare premature aging disease of children. His chief non-academic interest is travel. He has visited India on numerous occasions, journeying from the tip of the southern jungle to the northern-most mouth of the Ganges in the Himalayas. He has traveled by small boat to the Yanomamo Nation of the Venezuelan Amazon, spent time among the Piraoa, their more p0acific neighbors, and visited the Pinhare – the great artisans of that jungle. He has climbed the cliffs of Kakadu in Australia, and been to the neighboring island of Tiwi. He has slept in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, driven by Land Rover across Tibet, and travelled by horseback through the mountains of the Krygyz Repubic along the ancient trade routes to the border of Outer Mongolia. He has seen Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and more small and wonderful places along the way than he can remember.

Grading Policy

Assignments (50% of final grade) During the first half of the semester, you will receive several small problems designed to allow you to practice the skills taught by the course, for example, your ability to use such tools as OMIM (database of genetic information), Entrez Pub Med (database of research literature), and BLAST (gene-homology finding program). Most problems require a short paper discussing results. Some problems also involve short, in-class presentations. Group Problem (50% of final grade) Throughout the semester, but especially in the second half, you will work in groups of five, putting together what you are learning. The goal is for each group to produce and test a hypothesis about Werner Syndrome using the some of the methods taught in the class. Groups will produce an integrated group project paper of about 30 pages.


Mitchell, "The Worm in the Brain," in Less Than Words Can Say Oshima, "The Werner Syndrome Protein: an update," Bioessays Schellenberg GD, Tetsuro M, Chang-En Y, & Nakura J, Werner Syndrome," in The Metabolic & Molecular bases of Inherited Disease Takao M, Akasaka Y, Ito K, Yukio I, & Tosharu I, Pathology: "Werner Syndrome and Normal Aging," in From Premature Gray Hair to Helicase – Werner Syndrom: Implications for Aging and Cancer Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, Orren D, Shaji T,& Machwe A, "The Werner Syndrome Helicase/Exonuclease (WRN) Disrupts and Degrades D-Loops in Vitro," Biochemistry


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