3D Teaching Lab
"Printing the Unseen"
Tangible Student Access to the Molecular and Nano Scale Shape and Interaction
Much of science relies on the understanding of physical structures that are too small to be seen by the naked human eye. With financial support from 2012 Provostís Innovative Teaching Funds, we have created hands-on laboratory sessions to be used in existing courses at URI.
We will provide experiential learning opportunities for students to generate hand-held physical models of molecular phenomena down to atomic resolution level. The resulting models will be further used to reach additional students in didactic classroom settings.
Both the generation and the use of the models will fully engage students in self-directed, creative, innovative, and interactive learning. This project is a result of collaborative efforts from Professors Roberta King (Pharmacy), Geoff Bothun (Chemical Engineering), and Bongsup Cho (Pharmacy).
Here are two major topic areas that we are currently working on:
Models of Drug and Protein Action
Students will be able to design their model using the public domain resources
available through the Web and investigate how drugs work at the atomic and molecular level.
- How does Aspirin work? Investigate and show how the aspirin drug molecule disables the protein target prostaglandin synthase by acting as a covalent modifier of the enzyme, preventing conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. Students can use computer graphics viewer software to explore the active site structure, identify which amino acid residues are responsible for drug action, and finally be able to print the active site geometry to appreciate the critical nature of the drug action.
- How does Penicillin work? Investigate and show how the antibiotic penicillin disables its protein targets and the role of these targets to bacterial cell survival. Students can explore the structural basis of the drug action, active site geometry, and how to avoid drug resistance.
- Functional Biochemistry: How does collagen keep our bodies strong yet flexible? How do DNA methyltransferases control epigenetics? How is DNA duplicated each time a new cell is made? How do multiple protein blood clotting factors interact to initiate and control blood clotting?
Models of Nanomaterials
Students will be able to design, modify, analyze their nano model, and finally print them to test out their structural hypotheses.
- What elements are used to create nanoparticles? Investigate how different elements can be used to create nanoparticles. Students can explore how the type of element impacts nanoparticle size and shape. An understanding of nanoparticle surface area will be gained, specifically the number of surface atoms relative to nanoparticle diameter and composition. Students can exchange elements and make different compositions following "chemistry rules." This topic will be explored in tandem with introductory lectures on the design and application of nanoparticles.
- How are nanoparticles stabilized? Investigate the role of size, shape, and surface chemistry on nanoparticle stability in liquids. This ultimately determines how nanoparticles can be used. Students will explore how different stabilizing ligands can be used to prepare nanoparticle dispersions and how these ligands change conformation in hydrophilic and hydrophobic liquids. Students can select or design, and print their own ligands.