Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
CM1401 (AF:355482 AR:186319)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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This teaching is one of the basic training activities of the degree course in Science and Technology of Bio and Nanomaterials. The major goal of this teaching, which includes both theoretical lessons and laboratory sessions, is to introduce the students to biomolecular engineering, an emerging and highly interdisciplinary discipline that includes molecular biology, biological chemistry and bioengineering. Particular attention will be dedicated to the principles and methodologies used to modify the properties of genetically encoded macromolecules such as nucleic acids, peptides and proteins, and their applications as therapeutics, diagnostics, biosensors and biocatalysts.
The educational objectives of the teaching are: i) to encourage and stimulate the use of a logical and deductive thinking necessary to understand and modify the structure and function of complex macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, peptides and proteins; ii) to learn advanced methodologies and technologies for the synthesis, modification and characterization of the major biological macromolecules; iii) to favour an adequate and critical experimental approach that is indispensable for reading and understanding scientific articles; iv) to develop familiarity and independence in the preparation of PowerPoint slides in order to be able to present and explain an assigned scientific article in front of the classroom; v) to develop practical skills and expertise in the production, purification and characterisation of some biological macromolecules, either alone or as part of small work units; vi) to develop the ability to expose scientific concepts in a formal manner and using a proper scientific language.
1. Knowledge and understanding
• Knowledge of the chemical physical properties of the biological macromolecules and understand the key relationships between structure and function;
• Demonstrate an adequate knowledge and understanding of the major engineering techniques used to modify the properties of biological macromolecules;
• Being able to apply the knowledge and the technologies learned in classroom to better understand and present scientific articles concerning the engineering of DNA, RNA, peptides and proteins.
• Being able to apply the methods and the technologies learned in classroom to the laboratory and understand the process of acquisition and processing of experimental data.

2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
• Being able to use the acquired knowledge to comprehend, logically interpret and modify the chemical physical properties of the biological macromolecules;
• Being able to propose coherent and complementary methodologies for the engineering and the characterization of biological macromolecules.

3. Ability to judge
• Use the acquired knowledge to engineer and critically analyse DNA, RNA, peptides and proteins;
• Being able to evaluate, through a critical analysis of the method, which technologies may be more suitable for the synthesis, modification and characterization of the various biological macromolecules;
• Being able to recognise the fields of application of engineered biomacromolecules;
• Being able to recognize errors through a critical analysis of the applied method and to formulate alternative hypothesis.

4. Communication skills
• Being able to convey the acquired knowledge using an appropriate terminology;
• Being able to interact with the teacher and the classmates in a respectful and constructive manner, especially during the presentation of the assigned scientific article in front of the classroom and during the execution of the experiments in the laboratory.

5. Learning skills
• Being able to take notes, selecting and collecting information according to their importance;
• Being able to make logical connections between the different topics of the course and apply to the laboratory the concepts learned in classroom;
• Being able to understand and present in classroom a scientific article assigned by the teacher using PowerPoint slides and an appropriate scientific language.
To have reached the educational objectives of physic, general and organic chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, cellular biology and microbiology, possibly (but not necessarily) having passed the final exams of these courses.
In relation to the educational objectives and expected learning outcomes, the course contents can be divided in two parts.

First part:
• Properties of the major functional groups present in the biomolecules and non-covalent interactions in the aqueous systems;
• Structure and function of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA;
• Structure and function of peptides and proteins;
• Description of properties and functions of biological macromolecules that can be engineered;
• Methods for generating genetic diversity: focused and random mutagenesis;
• Rational design of novel biological macromolecules;
• Directed evolution technologies: in vivo, in vitro and ex vivo selection strategies;
• Genetically-encoded chemical libraries of small molecules, natural products and peptides;
• Chemoselective and chemoenzymatic bioconjugation methods;
• Applications of engineered macromolecules to bio and nanotechnologies.

Second part:
• Techniques for the production, purification and modification of nucleic acids and proteins. Isolation and purification of DNA and RNA. Cloning of DNA molecules: amplification, digestion and ligation. Mutagenesis methods. Bioconjugation of DNA and RNA. Methods for the determination of protein concentration. Methods for the production and extraction of recombinant proteins. Liquid chromatography techniques for protein purification. Bioconjugation of proteins.
• Laboratory experience will involve i) the cloning, production, purification and concentration of a recombinant protein, and ii) the bioconjugation of a fluorophore to a protein and its characterization by spectroscopic techniques (UV/Vis, fluorescence).

As a support to the study, in addition to the lecture notes and a series of scientific publications provided by the teacher, the following textbook is suggested: D. Van Vranken, G. Weiss: Introduction to Bioorganic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Garland Science – Taylor & Francis Group.
The assessment of learning takes place by means of an oral exam lasting about one hour. The objective of the exam consists in verifying and evaluating: i) the level of knowledge of the topics dealt with in class; ii) the ability of critical thinking; iii) the ability to make connections between the different contents of the course; iv) the ability to update and develop the knowledge by independently looking for textbooks and scientific articles specific to the sector; v) the ability to read, understand and present in the classroom a scientific work proposed by the teacher. The degree of accuracy of the answers and the ownership of the scientific language used will be evaluated. The constant and active participation to the lessons will be taken into account in the final evaluation. For the practical laboratory experiences there is a compulsory attendance of at least 80% of all the experiences, under penalty of failure to perform and pass the exam.
Specifically, the oral exam consists of:
• a series of questions concerning both parts of the program reported in the "Contents" section, including the practical laboratory experiences; The students must demonstrate both the critical learning of the topics of the entire program and the ability to expose them in a formal and concise manner using an appropriate scientific language.
• the discussion and presentation of a scientific articles pertaining to the course and selected among six articles assigned by the teacher.
The students have to demonstrate both the critical learning of the topics of the entire program and the ability to expose them in a formal and concise manner using an appropriate scientific language.
The evaluation is expressed in thirtieths. Finals will take place within the dates established by the academic calendar.
Teaching is organized in:
i) frontal theoretical lectures by the teacher alternated by PowerPoint presentations of scientific articles by students;
ii) practical laboratory experiences in which the students, working in groups of three, will perform experiments, collect data and elaborate them.
Classroom lectures will be interactive and will include a general introduction to the subject matter by the teacher followed by the presentation and discussion of one or more scientific articles by the students. Both traditional whiteboard and PowerPoint slides will be used during the lessons. The scientific articles selected by the teacher will be relevant to the course and will have to be illustrated by the students by means of short presentations (30 min) with PowerPoint slides. Students will be guided by the teacher to the understanding and correct interpretation of the assigned scientific articles. Questions from the teacher and the classmates will follow the presentation to verify that the student is able to discuss the topics of the exposed article and link them with the general context of the course.
Concerning the practical laboratory experiences, the students will be guided by the teacher in all the practical activities proposed and will be accompanied to the understanding and the correct interpretation of the results obtained during the laboratory experience. For the practical laboratory experiences there is a compulsory attendance of at least 80% of all the experiences, under penalty of failure to perform and pass the exam. Verification of the understanding of the practical laboratory experiences will be carried out in the final oral exam.
The teaching material is present and downloadable from the University's Moodle e-learning platform.
Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion

Accommodation and support services for students with disabilities and students with specific learning impairments: Ca’ Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). In the case of disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Human capital, health, education" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 02/05/2021