While teaching a genetics course at a community college in Knoxville Tennessee last year, Margaret Franzen -- now the program director of the BioMolecular Modeling center at the Milwakee School of Engineering -- had her students close their text books and hit the Web. In order for them to learn the various structural components of proteins, and how those proteins are affected by mutations, each month the students picked a molecule to study from David Goodsell's Web site "Molecule of the Month."
Using the molecular images, which are stylized cartoons in vivid colors of the atoms that make up the protein, the students learned what functions each part of the proteins are responsible for. For example, the hemoglobin molecule -- from May 2003 and possibly the most popular molecule, according to Goodsell -- is animated with motion to show how an oxygen atom binds at heme sites...

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