Biochemistry and molecular biology investigates the relationships of chemical structure to the function of biological compounds. To achieve these goals, biochemistry uses a specific approach that combines basic principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to dissect complex biological processes.
Over the past 50 years the biochemical approach has been spectacularly successful in providing fundamental explanations for biological events. Technologies based on biochemistry are used in all areas of biological and biomedical science.
Investigating simple life forms has helped us to understand similar processes in complex organisms, and has resulted in the emergence of common themes in metabolism and in the structure and function of biologically important molecules. This knowledge allows biochemists and biomedical scientists to develop or improve pharmaceutical, industrial, bio-technological and food products and to monitor biological processes. It assists biomedical scientists and physicians to define the normal state, to describe the biochemical and molecular basis of disease and to improve diagnosis and therapy.
Biochemistry requires a good foundation in chemistry, biology and related subjects.
Biochemistry and molecular biology are related, interactive disciplines, whose joint goal is a complete understanding of life at the cellular and subcellular levels. Biochemists primarily use tools derived from chemistry to dissect molecular structure and function, while molecular biologists more often ground their studies of life processes in genetics. Both also need cell biology, mathematics, physics and, increasingly, genomics, bioinformatics and computational biology. The 21st century will be the century of biology: not only will they develop radical new ways of improving and maintaining human health, they will also have to come to terms with the history and responsibilities as the dominant species on the planet. Biochemistry and molecular biology will be the foundation sciences in these transformations.
As a component of a research-intensive university with a broad educational mandate, the department has a mission that encompasses two distinct goals:
To generate and to disseminate new knowledge through research in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.
To educate students in the theory and practice of biochemistry and molecular biology.
In the past, the research activities of the department have been readily categorized into three areas of activity: metabolism, molecular biology and protein chemistry. The borders between these areas have become much less distinct although the interests of the faculty members still span a wide range from protein chemistry to molecular evolution. Three new areas of research emphasis have been defined. Although somewhat overlapping, they indicate the research directions the department will follow in the future.
Molecular cell biology and molecular genetics
Comparative genomics, proteomics and molecular evolution
Structure, function and metabolism of biomolecules
It is faculty members working in these areas who will provide the expertise necessary to maintain modern, high-caliber research programs that attract external funding and high-quality graduate students. They will also have sufficient breadth of interest and experience to meet current and future teaching obligations.
Where is Dalhousie University, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology