Special Topics – Glycochemistry and Glycobiology (MED 691)

A new course was created in January 2013 at Virginia Commonwealth University titled “Special Topics – Glycochemistry and Glycobiology”. Students enrolled in MED691 receive 1.0 credit.

This course will present fundamental and applied principles of glycochemistry and glycobiology to
students of the PharmD and MS/PhD programs. The glycochemistry module (~4 lectures) will
integrates the chemical properties of carbohydrates. Emphasis will be placed on structure of
carbohydrates including monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides and techniques used in
their characterization. The glycobiology module will highlight the functional role of glycans with
special emphasis on their modulation of physiological responses. Students will learn about the
increasing role of glycans in biology and opportunities to develop pharmaceutically relevant entities.
The goal of this course is to expose the student to the widening field of glycobiology. Having
completed this course, a student should be able to:
1. Recognize and name common carbohydrates.
2. Predict the conformational properties of common carbohydrate/glycan structures.
3. Describe a simple protocol for the structural characterization of carbohydrates.
4. Predict the probable functional role of a glycan.
5. Describe carbohydrate – protein interaction phenomenon.
6. Describe the role of carbohydrates/glycans in modulating a biological response.
7. Compare and contrast pharmaceutical opportunities available with regard to glycans.
Lecture material is drawn from the primary literature. A useful book is “Essentials of Glycobiology,
2nd Edition (Ajit Varki (Ed), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 2009)”.
The module will be presented using a one lecture hour per week format.
Each didactic class consists primarily of a formal lecture presentation by an instructor. The instructor
encourages questions from students and will often initiate brief discussions by asking questions of
the students. Active student participation of this type is expected and encouraged. Students will be
given the opportunity near the end of the semester to evaluate this course and the instructor. The
evaluations will be reviewed by the Departmental Chairman and the course coordinator.