The “Cocktail"

A Lab Exercise in Everyday Biology


With the proper equipment, this hands-on activity is extremely easy to carry out. Students will visualize the structure of the HIV 1 protease using a macromolecule visualization program, Rasmac, on a Macintosh computer. In carrying out the activity, students will learn the principles underlying "structure-based drug design." They will also see how an effective drug against the AIDS virus fits tightly into the active site of the HIV protease enzyme. To increase the level of the lab, greater detail on protein structure and/or the life cycle of the HIV virus can be included. The activity ties in well with the CIBT "AIDS Transmission" and/or the CIBT "HIV Testing" activities. To demonstrate the importance of receptors, like fusin, that are required for HIV infection, you may use the CIBT activity called "Tupperware model".

Appropriate Levels

Life Science, High School, Honors, or Advanced Placement Biology.

Time Required

The first time the activity is used, the program and the data files will need to be acquired and loaded onto the computer(s). After that, minimal teacher prep time is required The activity takes 15-20 minutes of student time. If you have fewer than one computer per pair of students, you should provide alternate activities that students can work on while others are working on the computers.



  • A computer running molecular visualization software is required to do this lab. 
Copyright for this material is held by Cornell University, the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers (CIBT), the Center for Nanoscale Systems Institute for Physics Teachers (CIPT), and or West Hill Biological Resources, Inc., 2014. This work may be copied by the original recipient from this web site to provide copies for users working under the direct supervision of the original recipient. All other redistribution of this content without the express written permission of the copyright holder(s) is prohibited.

Price:       No Charge

Patricia Nolan, Scotia-Glenville High School, Scotia, NY

Jim Blankenship, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY