Science at the heart of medicine

5010 Membrane Physiology & Transport

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Membranes form essential barriers that separate the cytoplasm from the external world and from subcellular compartments such as mitochondria, endosomes, lysosomes, etc. Lipid bilayers are a major component of cellular membranes that create a barrier to the transport of ions and hydrophilic solutes across cell membranes. Membrane proteins constitute about 25% of genomes of most organisms. Transport proteins and channels create pathways for the regulated movement of solutes across cell membranes and for the creation of transmembrane electrical potentials. This course will discuss:

1) the fundamentals of solute transport across cell membranes

2) the role of ion movement in the creation of membrane potentials

3) the role and regulation of these transport processes in the physiology of nerves and epithelia

REQUIRED MATERIALS: Course readings will be distributed or made available as pdf files.

PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites include one year of general chemistry, one year of physics, and preferably at least a year of biology and a semester of biochemistry.

STUDENT PREPARATION: Students should be familiar with the structure of ions and non-electrolytes in solution, elementary thermodynamics and Gibbs free energy, acid-base chemistry, structure of biological membranes and membrane proteins, electrical potentials, resistance, conductance, and current.


UNIQUE TRAINING OFFERED IN THIS COURSE: Some material in this course will overlap with the Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience course, particularly lectures focusing on the ionic basis of membrane and action potentials. This course will be required to first year MSTP students.

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: Student’s grades will be based on class participation, multiple quizzes and an essay format final exam.