Introductory Biological-Chemistry

Keck Science Department 

Biology and Chemistry are inately intertwined. Shown here is a molecular view of a collagen triple helix, a common biologicl molecule held together by intermolecular forces. Image courtesy of Dr. Paul Nerenberg, Keck Science Department.

A more complete and in-depth understanding of the natural world is gained through applying integrated approaches of inquiry from diverse scientific fields.  Numerous chemical concepts are fundamental to understanding the basic functionality of living systems, such as a cell.  Introductory Biological Chemistry is a new course that integrates chemistry ideas, such as quantum mechanics and atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular shape and properties, and applies these to discussion of molecular interactions occurring in living systems, such as cell membranes and protein structure.  Additional examples of overlap include discussion of stoichiometry, and laws of thermodynamics and conservation of matter, as they are applied to understanding of how cells use metabolism to harvest energy and create building blocks of life.  Our discussions will expand to more complex systems that allow for gene expression, heredity, development, physiology, and response to the environment.  We will identify common themes relevant to both chemistry and biology throughout the semester and highlight modern applications where these two fields are of critical consideration, such as drug design.

Nickel channel transcription factor bound to its specific DNA sequence. Image courtesy of Dr. Paul Nerenberg, Keck Science Department.


Molecular view of a ribosome. Image courtesy of Dr. Paul Nerenberg, Keck Science Department.


Introductory Biological Chemistry will be offered as a replacement for both Chem 14 and Bio 43, and topics covered will be similar.  In this 2-credit course, students will participate in 6 hours of integrated biology/chemistry lecture and 8 hours of laboratory experiences every week throughout the semester.  Math will be emphasized to solve straightforward problems targeted at chemical concepts, and then students will connect what they learn to solve more relevant and complex problems applied to biological chemistry.  Students will develop critical thinking, experimental design, and problem solving skills, as well as experience in both oral and written expression to communicate scientific results.  Introductory Biological Chemistry will prepare students to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner, which is a characteristic sought continuously in the most rapidly advancing areas of science.


For more information please contact:

Emily Wiley

Associate Professor of Biology

Aaron Leconte

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Support Provided By: 

Shown here is a coarse-grained model of cell membrane with an amyloid beta peptide [red] embedded. Image courtesy of Dr. Paul Nerenberg, Keck Science Department.