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Pharmaceutical Discovery from Cyanobacteria - MEDCHEM 447

Searching for New Antibiotics in Northern Michigan Blue-Green Algae

3 credits

Prerequisites: CHEM 130 and BIO 171 or equivalents

Requirements: Satisfies the PitE Practical Experience requirement

Instructors: Ashu Tripathi, Amy Fraley 


Course Description

Natural products have long been used as medicine. Cyanobacteria are particularly renowned for producing compounds with antibacterial, anticancer, and insecticidal properties.

In this combination field-lab research course, you will learn taxonomic identification of biologically relevant blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) and proper field collection techniques. You will then head to the lab with your samples for extraction and purification of natural products which you will test for therapeutic properties.

From discovery by organic extraction, fractionation, and column chromatography, to analysis via HPLC and mass spectrometry, you will learn first-hand how a natural compound becomes a therapeutic drug.


Fill out the UMBS Application and enroll in the Fall 2023 section of MEDCHEM 447.

This class spans the end of the summer half-term and the Fall 2023 semester. Credits reflect both the 2-week field component at the Biological Station and semester-long research component in Ann Arbor.

You will live at the Biological Station for the duration of the 2-week field course. Your room and board for those two weeks are covered by UMBS Transforming Learning Program scholarships.

Collecting cyanobacteria from the Maple River