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BIOL 424

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The Use of Plants/ Plant Medicinal Chemistry (BIO 424)

8:00- 8:50 AM, MWF

11 Life Science

Fall 2013

The course will focus on how the modern pharmacopeia has been influenced by the vast array of chemicals produced by plants. Digoxin, for example, has been used for the treatment of heart conditions and was first reported in western medicine in 1785. The plant from which this compound is extracted, the common foxglove (Digitalis sp) has evolved a complex pathway that results in the synthesis of this compound. The course will provide an overview of how plant secondary metabolites are produced and why plants make them and will also explore the use of plant chemicals in both medicine and other fields of human endeavors expanding the students appreciation and understanding of plants. We will also discuss the potential of biotechnology in providing products for various industries. 

Meetings: 011 LSB; MWF 8:00-8:50 a.m.

Instructor: Dr. Marcia Maria de Oliveira Buanafina

Office: 319 Mueller Lab

Tel.: 867-0223. 


Office Hours: W, F 9:10-10:00 a.m.

Grading: Will be based on the participation on class discussions, homework, results of exams and  presentation project. Two 50-minute tests are scheduled for these class periods:

September 27

Nov 08

Exam 1 (20%):  Will cover material through Class 2 up to Class 14. 

Exam 2 (20%):   Will cover material through Class 16 up to Class 32. 

Project (20%): The project will require that students  research on a specific topic (topic will be assigned), prepare a 4-5 page paper (1.5 space) and a 8-10 min Power Point Presentation providing information that would be suitable for the general public and present it to the class (dates will be assigned). The written paper should  include  the references and at least two references to a research article. The power point has to be sent to the whole class and teacher no later than  24 hours  before the presentation. Students have to bring two questions about the topic covered on his/her Presentation  to the class (these  questions might be included in the Test). After each presentation there will be time for questions and an assessment questionnaire to be filled in by each student in class. This is an individual assignment.  Presentations will be taking place on specific dates throughout the semester. Students are required to attend these presentations and to assess other students. 

Class Discussions and Homework (10% points): we will have Friday discussion sessions on papers that relate to the topics covered in class or selected topics for debate. For each paper a team of students (2 or 3) will lead the discussion. The class members are however expected to participate. Grades will be based on preparation and participation in all discussions and homework which will be collected occasionally. Students are required to hand in a summary of what they have read or researched on for the class discussion. 

QUIZ (5%): short question; days will be assigned along the semester.

Final Exam (25%): will be given during the final week. This exam will have  comprehensive questions and  agree/disagree questions, and will include material through the  whole course including questions from students presentations (projects).


Assignment of Final Grades

Exam grades, project grade and class participation will be posted in ANGEL.  Lecture exams and project points (total of 900 pts) count for 00% of your grade; the remaining 10% will come from class discussions (100 pts).  Final course grades will be assigned as follows (total of 1000 points*).  The grading scale is:  

A = 930 – 1000   A- = 900 – 929      B+ = 870 – 899      B = 830 – 869

B- = 800 – 829           C+ = 770 – 799     C = 700 – 769     D = 600 – 699

F = less than 600 points

Grade cutoffs may be adjusted to reflect the score distribution of the class. Individual exams are NOT curved. There are no extra credit points available in this course.  A final grade will be changed only if a mathematical or grade-entry error has been made in determining that final grade.

* In extraordinary circumstances, a final grade may be based upon fewer than the total possible points.


Disability - 

Qualified students with disabilities are encouraged by Penn State to participate in the University's programs and activities.  Should you need any type of accommodation in any course because of a disability or have questions or concerns about the physical access, please contact the Office for Disability Services in 116 Boucke Building (863-1807).  If you have an ODS accommodation letter, please see the course coordinator, Dr. Hass.

Copyright Issues and Classroom Note-Taking Services - 

Students who are enrolled in the course and who sell notes to either commercial note-taking services or to other students are advised to consult official University policies (for example, see Administrative Policy AD40  ( to learn about classroom notes, handouts, and other materials that are protected under the federal Copyright Act and under University policy in order to avoid violating copyright laws and University policy.


The syllabus is subject to change. The Instructors reserve the right to make changes to items on this syllabus, including changes to the lecture schedules, and lecture topics and assignments.

You are responsible for reading and understanding all course policies as outlined in this lecture syllabus, 

For exams 1, 2 and the Final, attendance is mandatory. If student is to be absent should contact instructor within 48 h of missing the exam. The following are the legitimate excuses for missing the exams:

1. Illness

2. Religious holiday recognized by PSU

3. Death in the family ( official documentation must be provided)

4. A university sponsored event (with note from sponsor)



No textbook. Specific readings will be indicated in the syllabus.

Students will be required to follow the guidelines concerning academic integrity as described in the Biology Department’s Policy and the Senate Policy 49-20:



Academic Integrity/Academic Dishonesty: 

Professional behavior includes academic integrity.  Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment.  The following is quoted directly from the "PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students" regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty ( “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.”

All University and Departmental policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course.  Refer to further details on the academic integrity policies of the Eberly College of Science:   Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any exam, to complete assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor or teaching assistant, and to abide by University and College policies on academic integrity and academic dishonesty.  If you have any questions about an assignment, please ask.