Biochemistry/Molecular Biology

The study of biology gives us an understanding of the structure, the evolution and the diversity of living organisms. The study of chemistry reveals the composition and behavior of matter itself. These two fundamental forms of scientific inquiry meet in biochemistry — the study of living organisms at the molecular level. At Hamilton, the biochemistry/molecular biology program combines the strengths and resources of the two disciplines to create a third distinct research-based major.

How are molecules constructed? How do they interact? What are the dynamics of organic matter or the molecular level? Such questions, and the research through which they are investigated, are the starting points for a broad knowledge of biology and chemistry. Biochemical concepts and processes are central to many of the most crucial issues of our time, from the spread and treatment of disease to environmental damage to agricultural safety to the threat of bioterrorism.

While courses in biology and chemistry introduce a broad range of students to the life sciences, the biochemistry/molecular biology program offers a strong scientific grounding for students who plan to pursue graduate study or enter the health professions and related fields. Building on a foundation of coursework in biology and chemistry, the biochemistry curriculum begins with a course that explores the chemical properties of macromolecules synthesized by cells. Later courses deal with intermediary metabolism, replication, cell signaling and molecular genetics.

Laboratory activities are an integral part of the curriculum. They expose students to modern biochemical techniques and applications. Classes are small, and students and faculty members work closely together. At all levels, the biochemistry/molecular biology program offers a stimulating, thought-provoking experience.

To begin a concentration in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, introductory Biology and Chemistry courses should be taken in the respective departments. See Chemistry and Biology.

270S Biological Chemistry.
A survey of the chemical and physical nature of biological macromolecules, including nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates; biochemistry of enzyme catalysis; bioenergetics and regulatory mechanisms. Principles and techniques of experimental biochemistry, focusing on isolation methods and techniques for analyzing structure and function. This course satisfies the second semester of a one-year General Chemistry requirement for post-graduate Health Professions programs, however, this course might not also satisfy a Health Profession program’s requirement for a course in Biochemistry. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 190. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Same as Chemistry 270 and Biology 270.) S Rosenstein.

[320S] Biophysical Chemistry.
A study of the fundamental concepts and principles of physical chemistry applied to biological systems. Topics include the spectroscopy, thermodynamics and kinetics of proteins and other biomolecules, and the use of this knowledge to explain the physical basis of biochemical properties. Prerequisite, 270 and Mathematics 116. Physics 105, 195 or 205 is recommended. (Same as Chemistry 320.)

321F Physical Chemistry I.
A study of the fundamental concepts and principles of quantum chemistry. Topics include the fundamental postulates of quantum mechanics, the nature of the chemical bond, and applications of molecular quantum mechanics including spectroscopy and computational electronic structure methods. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 125 or 190, Mathematics 116, Physics 105, 195 or 205. (Same as Chemistry 321.) Dawood; Van Wynsberghe.
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322S Physical Chemistry II.
A study of the fundamental concepts and principles of thermodynamics and kinetics. Topics include statistical and classical thermodynamics, prediction of the direction and extent of chemical reactions, equilibrium, chemical kinetics, catalysis, and reaction rate theory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 125 or 190, Mathematics 116, Physics 105, 195 or 205. The department recommends that students take 321 prior to 322. Three hours of lecture. (Same as Chemistry 322.) Dawood; Van Wynsberghe.
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346F Biochemistry.
The advanced study of biochemical pathways in living organisms, with emphasis given to gene regulation and metabolism of four major macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Includes in-depth discussion of contemporary developments in molecular biology and comprehensive training in molecular techniques. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, 115, or consent of instructor. (Same as Biology 346.) Chang.

550F,S Senior Thesis I.
A research project carried out in association with a faculty member. One course credit. Must be approved by May of the junior year. The Program.

551S Senior Thesis II.
A research project carried out in association with a faculty member. Includes written and oral presentations. Candidates for honors should elect both 550 and 551. Prerequisite, 550. One course credit. The Program.