September 2010

Historical Perspectives: The JBC Publishes New Classics and Reflections Collections


A look at the new Journal of Biological Chemistry Historical Perspectives collection, which contains Classics and Reflection articles grouped around specific topics.


Historical-PerspectivesThe Journal of Biological Chemistry is proud to offer a new set of free classroom tools based on the popular Classics and Reflections articles. The “Historical Perspectives” are edited collections grouped around specific topics, such as protein synthesis, lipids and metabolism.

The collections include new introductions from the editors. The JBC Classics shed light on the events and experiments that led to many of the important discoveries published in the journal since its founding in 1905. The Reflection articles are authored by biochemists whose contributions have helped mark the many advances in biochemistry and molecular biology and give great insight into the personal and professional lives of groundbreaking scientists.

The Historical Perspectives present the staples of biochemistry and molecular biology classes in a new light and make it easier to learn and teach about these subjects and how they advanced throughout the years.

Currently, there are three Historical Perspectives available on the JBC website: “Lipid Biochemistry,” “Glycobiology and Carbohydrates” and “Bioenergetics.” Each collection can be downloaded as a single PDF, or individual articles from the collections can be downloaded by themselves.

Historical Perspectives on Lipids

The lipid collection contains articles that fall into two general categories— lipid biosynthesis and lipid signaling— and covers research ranging from Horace A. Barker and Earl R. Stadtman’s 1949 JBC paper that examined the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, to Nobel laureates Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelson’s papers in the 1960s on the biosynthesis and structure of several prostaglandins.

Historical Perspectives on Glycobiology

The Classics and Reflections included in the glycobiology collection trace many of the discoveries that have led to our current knowledge of carbohydrates, including a paper published in 1908 in which Stanley R. Benedict reported an analytical method for determining the reducing sugar content of biological fluids such as urine, leading to the now-famous Benedict solution.

Historical Perspectives on Bioenergetics

The papers selected for the bioenergetics collection touch on various aspects of bioenergetics and the biochemists that pioneered the field. For example, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Boyer’s 1979 JBC Classic paper and his Reflection article explain the research that resulted in the elucidation of the mechanism of energy coupling in oxidative phosphorylation.

Additional collections will be added to the website in the coming months. Upcoming topics include protein chemistry, methods in biochemistry, vitamins and coenzymes, enzyme mechanisms, signal transduction and metabolism.

Other JBC Teaching Tools

In addition to the Classics and Reflections, the Journal of Biological Chemistry website has several other teaching tools that are freely available to download.

One of the most popular tools is “JBC in the Classroom”— a series of articles from the ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliate Network newsletter, Enzymatic. The articles explain how to use JBC papers as teaching tools for biochemistry and molecular biology. For example, in a recent Classroom article, Takita Sumter, professor of biochemistry at Winthrop University, explains how she uses JBC papers to help students understand the relationship between protein structure and function.

The site also has a collection of fun science videos from Stanford University instructor Tom McFadden (featured in the June 2010 issue of ASBMB Today) such as the “Regulatin’ Genes” rap and a ballad to apoptosis.

Additionally, figures included in any article published since 1995 are available to download as a PowerPoint slide for use in the classroom. A figure search option is located at the bottom of the advanced search page on the JBC website. Many of the best images published in the JBC have been featured as journal covers, which can be found in the cover image gallery.

Nicole Kresge ( is the editor of ASBMB Today.

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