NKEK22004U Protein Structure and Function in Biomedicine and Sustainable Biotechnology

Volume 2023/2024

MSc Programme in Biotechnology


Protein science is central in the fundamental understanding of how organisms function, but also in the application and significance of proteins in sustainable biotechnologies and biomedicine. The function of proteins is carried out through their three-dimensional structure and dynamics. The aim of this course is to guide students who already have a basic knowledge of protein chemistry, through more advanced aspects of protein science based on critical reading of original literature, with two themes running throughout the course: the role of proteins in disease and proteins as biotechnological tools for sustainable industrial applications.

The course will cover several aspects of the relationship between protein structure and function by going into depths into several case studies. Short introductions to biochemical and biophysical techniques to study proteins and to practical use of protein sequence and structure databases and molecular graphics programs will be given as part of the course. Aspects of structure and function of enzymes, particularly esterases and carbohydrate-active enzymes in industrial biotechnology, metalloproteins, transcription factors, membrane proteins, intrinsically unfolded proteins and designed proteins will be covered, with other topics varying from year to year.

Learning Outcome


The student must demonstrate to have acquired knowledge on the structure and functions of the specific proteins covered in the course, as well as the general mechanisms by which protein structure dictates its function, e.g. catalysis and molecular recognition



The students must be able to:

- independently read and evaluate original research articles in English and critically describe how the experiments give information on the relationship between protein structure and function.

- formulate themselves precisely orally when discussing protein structure and function.

- search for relevant information in protein sequence and structure databases

- illustrate important points related to a protein's structure and function by preparing figures using a molecular graphics program

- recognize and describe different types of structures and functional mechanisms for proteins.



- The student must be able to gather and critically evaluate relevant information on specific aspects of protein structure and function from the scientific literature and relevant databases

-The student must be able to relevantly integrate the gathered information in discussion of protein chemistry, structure and function in the broader context of medicine and biotechnology

Most of the curriculum consists of original literature (reviews and articles). Additionally online material, video materials, own notes and textbook chapters will be provided.

The course is intended for students who already have a basic knowledge of protein chemistry, structure and function. This means the equivalent of at least 7.5 ECTS solely on protein chemistry structure and function (of course this could be from part of several different courses).

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree are recommended. However, last year students in BSc studies where they have already had contact with primary literature in protein science are also welcome, if they have the basic knowledge above.
The course is primarily organized in on-line modules, that can be taken sequentially at own pace, including prerecorded lectures and practice quizzes and online tutorials/workshops. While taking the modules the students can interact with teachers through a discussion forum. A set of online evaluation quizzes must be satisfactorily completed two weeks prior to the exam. 2 on-line days with compulsory attendance are reserved for student presentations/​discussion, and will be announced latest during the preceding block 4 to registered students. In exceptional cases, the student may be allowed to deliver a pre-recorded video of the presentation instead. The presentations will be based on assigned articles fitting the course themes.
Both Chemistry and non-Chemistry students with an interest in proteins structure and function are welcome (e.g. from Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Nanoscience). Bachelor students with sufficient background in protein chemistry are also welcome as long as this is allowed within their curriculum. The course may be of particular relevance for students with interest in medicinal chemistry and biotechnology. PhD students e.g. from medicinal chemistry wanting to strengthen their competences in protein structure and function are welcome, as are e.g. high school teachers as single subject students.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • E-Learning
  • 56
  • Seminar
  • 12
  • Exam Preparation
  • 12
  • Exam
  • 36
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 36 hours
Type of assessment details
Written, individual assignments. The assignment will be based on articles covered in the course and relevant background materials.
Exam registration requirements

Compulsory evaluation online quizzes (minimum 5) must be passed prior to the exam. Attendance of the 2 online presentation days is also compulsory

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Flere interne bedømmere

As the ordinary exam. The exam registration requirement must be satisfied at latest three weeks before the re-examination (attendance of online presentation days can be replaced by handing in video-recording of article presentations, as agreed with the course responsible)

Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome