Laboratory mice
Laboratory of Environmental Genomix

CREDIT:3 credit hours
TIME:3:30 - 4:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays
LOCATION:1305 McGavran-Greenberg
PREREQUISITES:Any combination of two courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, or cell physiology (or permission of course director)
Ivan Rusyn (Course director)0031
Louise M. Ball158
Phil Smith1317
Kim Brouwer3205
Rebecca Fry0032
Igor PogribnyNCTR/
James Swenberg2002
Richard JudsonUS


This course is designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students in Environmental Sciences & Engineering, Toxicology, and related disciplines. The completion of a Human Genome Project has significant implications for molecular biology, genetics, medicine, and environmental sciences and toxicology. New experimental techniques that are based on a better understanding of genes and their actions rapidly proliferate into laboratories; thus, the students need to have a broad knowledge of metabolism, mechanisms and effects of toxicants, as well as to understand techniques that are available for their laboratory research. To achieve these goals, the material that is to be covered in this course spans from basics of biochemical processes that are affected by environmental agents, to molecular mechanisms of action, and to current experimental approaches in environmental sciences and toxicology. 


This course will consist of lectures, in-class discussions and periodic examinations. The overall emphasis will be made on biochemical and molecular actions of toxicants and assessment of cellular and molecular mechanisms of adverse health effects. The students are expected to develop a comprehensive understanding of biochemical and molecular changes caused by environmental chemicals and toxicants. 



Grades will be based on three in-class examinations, and one final take home open book examination. Active student participation in the course is strongly encouraged.

In-class Examinations: (I-III) will test knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis (see definitions from the UNC Center for Teaching and Learning below). Each exam will be based on preceding lectures:

Examination I – lectures 1 through 9

Examination II – lectures 10 through 17

Examination III – lectures 18 through 26

Each examination will have 10 to 15 questions (predominantly of a very short essay type) and the maximum score will be 60 points, or 20% of the course total. The students may not use reference materials, lecture notes or other aides during in class examination. Exams are not rescheduled unless a pre-approval from a course director is granted in advance.

Knowledge: the recall of specifics and universals, involving little more than bringing to mind the appropriate material. The student recalls or recognizes information, ideas, and principles in the approximate form in which they were learned.

Comprehension: the ability to process knowledge on a low level such that the knowledge can be reproduced or communicated without verbatim repetition. The student translates, comprehends, or interprets information based on prior learning.

Application: the use of abstraction in concrete situations. The student selects, transfers, and uses data and principles to complete the problem or task with a minimum of direction.

Analysis: the breakdown of a situation into its component parts. The student distinguishes, classifieds, and relates the assumptions, hypotheses, evidence, or structure of a communication or concept.

Synthesis: the putting together of elements and parts to form a whole. The student originates, integrates, and combines ideas into a product, plan or proposal that is new to him or her.

Final Examination: will test all skills detailed above plus evaluation ability. The materials for final exam will be distributed in September/October along with a list of questions. The students will be asked to review and critique a published manuscript that describes the use of novel molecular biology technique(s) in studies of the mechanisms of action of environmental chemicals. The use of textbooks, lecture notes and other appropriate material is encouraged. The maximum score for this exam is 105 points or 35% of the course total.

Evaluation: the making of judgments about the value of material/methods. The student appraises, assesses, or critiques something on the basis of specific standards and criteria.

Participation: the students are encouraged to attend all lectures and actively participate in class discussions. The maximum score for “participation” is 15 points or 5% of the course total.

Grading: will be based on the following criteria adjusted to the overall performance of all students taking the course this semester after summation of all points as detailed above:

At least 90% of the Maximum score ("H-to-P cutoff") H
At least 80% of the Median score ("P-to-L cutoff") but less than 90% of the maximum score P
Between 70% and 79.99% of the Median score ("L-to-F cutoff") L
Below 70% of the Median score F


The students are encouraged to review class handouts prior to each lecture by downloading the material from the course website when available. There is no assigned textbook. Copies of published research articles of interest will be distributed in class when appropriate. Two books are recommended as supplementation (not required but recommended) of classroom material:

·      HODGSON, E. and SMART, R.C.:  Introduction to Biochemical Toxicology. Wiley and Sons, New York, Hardcover: 902 pages, Publisher: Wiley; 4th edition (August 18, 2008). ISBN-10: 047010211X, ISBN-13: 978-0470102114. A comprehensive introductory text.

·      CASARETT AND DOULL’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. 7th edition (November 20, 2007), McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 1280. Edited by Curtis D. Klaassen. ISBN-10: 0071470514; ISBN-13: 978-0071470513. An in-depth treatment of toxicology, suitable as a long-term reference for students who intend to specialize in this field.


Online course evaluations. All students are expected to complete these evaluations during the two week time window at the end of the course as listed on the UNC Academic Calendar.