Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Stefania Rapino

  • Learning modules Stefania Rapino (Modulo 1)
    Marco Malferrari (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 6

  • SSD CHIM/02

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Photochemistry and Molecular Materials (cod. 9074)


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has acquired knowledge on i) the physico-chemical principles governing physiological and pathological cellular processes and driving biological macromolecule activities; ii) cellular processes that can be targeted for specific drug delivery and tissue and organ engineering.

Course contents

In order to achieve the learning outcomes of the course the program will focus on the following topics:

i) The Eukaryotic Cell: an overview (structure, compartments, cell models)

ii) Nucleic acids: quadruplex structures, protein interaction with DNA and RNA, RNA and DNA structures, DNA duplication, RNA transcription

iii) Ribosomes and translation

iv) Structure-function relation in proteins. Molecular machines

v) Lipids and biological membranes (double layer, fusion/fission, vescicles, lipid rafts and phase separation in biological membranes)

vi) Cell trafficking and the secretory pathway: endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi

vii) Protein channels: energization of cell membranes and signal transmission

viii) Energy metabolism in the Cell

ix) Cell cytoskeleton and different phases in the cell

x) Cells in motions: cellular adhesion and cell taxis

During the laboratory practice the student will acquire abilities in the use of scanning probe microscopies (e.g. scanning electrochemical microscopy) and high resolution optical/fluorescence microscopies (e.g. confocal microscopy) applied to cellular chemistry. Specific software and algorithms to quantitatively evaluate scientific images of cell matter will be employed.


Lecture notes and teacher slides.

The students can delve deeper into the arguments of the course using some chapters of the following books, the teacher will precisely indicate the reference chapters.

Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev, Julie Theriot, "Physical Biology of the Cell". 2nd Ed. 2012

Bruce Alberts, Rebecca Heald, Aalexander Johnson, et al., “Molecular Biology of the Cell”

Luber Stryer, Jeremy Berg, John Tymoczko, “Biochemistry”

Teaching methods

This course is formed by 40 hours of frontal lectures accompanied by 16 hours of laboratory practice.

During the lessons, the contents of the program will be illustrated and discussed using PowerPoint slides. Attendance to frontal lessons is not mandatory but it is highly recommended as the content of the program will be fully presented and explained. The discussions with the whole class will be encouraged.

During the laboratory practices, the students will perform practical activities concerning the topics discussed in the lectures and will learn and apply quantitative treatment of physico-chemical measurements on biological systems. Students will be supervised by the teacher and the academic tutor in charge.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class or on Microsoft Teams according to the modality chosen by the teacher. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree program.

Assessment methods

The learning assessment of the lectures and experimental laboratory practices will consist in an oral exam aimed to verify and evaluate the student's knowledge of the main didactic objectives of the course, such as : (a) the chemical-physical bases governing the cellular functioning; (b) cellular processes which are targeted by drug treatments; c) the cellular properties that have to be taken into account when developing innovative materials for heath applications and drugs; (d) the ability of analysing and discussing chemico-physical scientific literature results in the field of health materials, innovative drugs and engineering of innovative materials for applications on cells and tissues.

Teaching tools

Teaching is mainly carried out employing PC, beamer projector, Power Point presentations and blackboard.

Office hours

See the website of Stefania Rapino

See the website of Marco Malferrari