Biophysics of Excitable Cells (PHYS*2030)
Code and section: PHYS*2030*01
Term: Winter 2021
Instructor: Leonid Brown
|Leonid Brown||MacNaughton firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Richard Parg||MacNaughton email@example.com|
|John (Atkinson) Simmons||MacNaughton firstname.lastname@example.org|
Lectures and Tutorials
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:30 – 12:20, Synchronous (AD-S; VIRTUAL)
Section 1: Tuesday 8:30 – 9:20, Synchronous (AD-S; VIRTUAL)
Section 2: Monday 2:30 – 3:20, Synchronous (AD-S; VIRTUAL)
(NOTE: no tutorials will be held in the midterm week and the week after, weeks 7-8)
By appointment, on-line only, please email Richard, John, or Leonid.
Zoom links, lecture notes, problem sets and solutions, tutorial problems, and other supplementary material will be available on the Courselink.
Course Calendar Description
An intermediate biophysics course with special emphasis on the physical properties of nerve cells and of biological transducers such as the ear and the eye. Prerequisite(s): 1.00 credits in physics (excluding PHYS*1020, PHYS*1600, PHYS*1810)
The main objectives of this course are to provide a basic understanding of the physical phenomena underlying nerve and membrane activity, and to illustrate how these phenomena are applied to different types of excitable cells.
By the end of this course students will be able to…
- Describe how physical principles influence the structure and function of excitable cells.
- Illustrate how physical phenomena can be applied to different types of excitable cells.
- Solve numerical problems using circuit analysis with various components including membrane resting and action potentials, membrane conductance and current flowing through cell membranes under different physiological conditions.
- Explain membrane and nerve activities with reference to the relevant underlying physical phenomena that give rise to them.
- Analyze how the principles of diffusion and electricity apply to biological membranes and individual nerve cells and how these result in cell resting and action potentials under different conditions.
- Apply the appropriate physical models to solve numerical problems describing sensory functions including hearing, vision, olfaction and taste.
- Generate simple circuit models to describe excitable cell membranes for excitable cells specific to the sensory systems.
- Compare and contrast the mechanisms underlying sensory functions of vision, hearing, olfaction and taste.
- "Biophysics of Excitable Cells" by G.H. Renninger, U. of G., 2003.
Available from the UG Bookstore.
- "From Neuron to Brain" by J.G. Nicholls et al. (Library: QP 355.2.K83 2001)
- “Principles of Neural Science" by E.R. Kandel et al. (Library: QP 355.2.P76 2013)
|Week 1: Jan 11-15||Introduction to the course
Chapter 1: Membrane structure/function
Begin Chapter 2: Diffusion, Fick's Law, Permeability
|Tutorial 1 - review of the relevant mathematics|
|Week 2: Jan 18-22||Continue Chapter 2: Diffusion, Fick's Law, Permeability, active transport
Begin Chapter 3: Coulomb's law, Electric potential, Work, Electric fields, Capacitance
|Week 3: Jan 25-29||Continue Chapter 3: Coulomb's law, Electric potential, Work, Electric fields, Capacitance
Begin Chapter 4: Electric current, mobility, Nernst equation, Donnan equilibrium
|Week 4: Feb 1-5||Continue Chapter 4: Electric current, mobility, Nernst equation, Donnan equilibrium, equivalent circuit of a membrane, Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation||Tutorial 4|
|Week 5: Feb 8-12||Chapter 5: Current injection; the nerve impulse, voltage clamps and ionic currents||Tutorial 5
Problem Set 1 Due on Monday, Feb 8
|Reading Week: Feb 15-19||NO CLASSES|
|Week 6: Feb 22-26||Chapter 6: Synaptic transmission
|Tutorial 6 - Midterm Review|
|Week 7: Mar 1-5||Chapter 7: Ion channels
Midterm Exam (Wednesday, Mar 3 in class)
|Problem Set 2 Due
on Monday Mar 1
|Week 8: Mar 8-12||Chapter 7: Ion channels continued
Begin chapter 8: Vision, the invertebrate eye
|Week 9: Mar 15-19||Continue Chapter 8: Vision, the invertebrate eye||Tutorial 7|
|Week 10: Mar 22-26||Continue Chapter 8: Vision, the vertebrate eye||Problem Set 3 Due
on Monday, Mar 22
|Week 11: Mar 29 – 31||Chapter 9: Hearing; No class Apr 1 - holiday||Tutorial 9|
|Week 12: Apr 5-12||Chapter 10: Olfaction and taste
Extra class Apr 12 rescheduled from Apr 1
|Problem Set 4 Due on Monday, Apr 12
Tutorial 10 – Exam review
|Problem Sets||4 total, 8% each||32%|
|Midterm||March 3, in class, on-line||28%|
|Final Exam||April TBA, on-line||40%|
Tutorials will be held every week (except for the weeks 7 and 8). The tutorials are important part of the course, since they provide practice and assistance with solving numerical problems.
These contain mainly numerical problem-solving questions showcasing the application of physics to biological membranes and sensory systems. There will be four (4) problem sets worth 8% each and have deadlines throughout the semester:
- Problem Set 1: February 8
- Problem Set 2: March 1
- Problem Set 3: March 22
- Problem Set 4: April 12
The Problem Sets should be submitted ELECTRONICALLY on the dates indicated above, by 4.30 PM, to the drop-box set up on the Courselink.
Wednesday, March 3rd, in class (on-line). In the first half of the course, physics principles are reviewed with specific application to cell membranes. The midterm is worth 28% of the total course grade.
April TBA, on-line. In the second half of the course, sensory systems are discussed in detail with the application of physics phenomena and circuit models. The final exam is cumulative as the course builds throughout the semester and has both numerical and qualitative questions. The final exam is worth 40% of the total course grade.
The penalty for late assignments is a 20% deduction per day, to a maximum of two days. You will be given ample time to complete your assignments; accordingly, you will be required to provide a justification if you wish to submit your assignment later than two days after the deadline.
Other Information and Policies
Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures
Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
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Course Evaluation Information
Information about the date and time of the course evaluation will be made available during the semester.
The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is April 12, 2021. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.
Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.
The University will not require verification of illness (doctor's notes) for the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 semesters.