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Undergraduate Course Catalog 2008-2009

College of Life Sciences and Agriculture


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCHM)


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Professor: Thomas E. Brady, Richard H. Cote, Clyde L. Denis, Thomas M. Laue, Stacia A. Sower, William R. Trumble
Research Professor: Vernon N. Reinhold
Affiliate Professor: William G. North, Stuart A. Tobet
Associate Professor: John J. Collins, Anita S. Klein, Andrew P. Laudano, W. Kelley Thomas
Assistant Professor: Deena J. Small
Research Assistant Professor: Kevin Culligan, Jennifer Durant
Affiliate Assistant Professor: Gary B. Smejkal

The field of biochemistry and molecular biology encompasses a broad range of the molecular life sciences, from biophysics and biochemistry to applied biology and medicine. The B.S. in biochemistry is based on a solid foundation in biology, chemistry, physics and math, along with advanced courses in molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics. The combined B.S.-M.S. degree program allows outstanding students with well-defined career plans to augment their bachelor’s degree program with an intensive research program and graduate-level course work leading to the master’s degree.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers specialized training in the areas of molecular genetics, signal transduction, gene regulation, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, cancer biology, macromolecular interactions, glycobiology, lipid metabolism, endocrinology, genomics, and proteomics. Undergraduate students are encouraged to become involved in research projects sponsored by external granting agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and others.

Students interested in the biochemistry major should consult with the department chairperson or a faculty member as early as possible to ensure the most effective curricular planning.

For first-year students with a strong high school preparation in both chemistry and mathematics (including calculus), the following schedule is recommended:


BIOL 411, Principles of Biology I
CHEM 403, General Chemistry I
MATH 425, Calculus I
ENGL 401, First Year Writing

BIOL 412, Principles of Biology II
CHEM 404, General Chemistry II
MATH 426, Calculus II
General education course

For first-year students lacking a strong background in chemistry and mathematics, the following schedule is recommended:


BIOL 411, Principles of Biology I
CHEM 403, General Chemistry I
ENGL 401, First Year English
General education course

BIOL 412, Principles of Biology II
CHEM 404, General Chemistry II
MATH 424B, Calculus for Life Sciences
General education course

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
The bachelor’s degree in biochemistry consists of a set of core requirements (Group I) and a set of required electives from several subject areas (Groups II-V):

I. All of the following
BIOL 411, 412, Principles of Biology I, II
CHEM 403, 404, General Chemistry I, II
MATH 425, 426, Calculus I, II, or
424B, Calculus for Life Sciences and
BIOL 528, Applied Biostatistics I
MICR 503, General Microbiology
BIOL 604, Principles of Genetics
BIOL 605, Eukaryotic Cell and Developmental Biology
CHEM 547/549 and 548/550, Organic Chemistry,
or CHEM 651/653 and 652/654, Organic Chemistry,
or CHEM 545/546, Organic Chemistry
and BCHM 658/659, General Biochemistry
PHYS 401, 402, Introduction to Physics I, II,
or PHYS 407, 408, General Physics I, II
BCHM 751-752, Principles of Biochemistry
BCHM 755, Laboratory in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

II. One of the following molecular biology courses
BCHM 711, Genomics and Bioinformatics
BCHM 766, Environmental Genomics
BCHM 771, Molecular Genetics
BCHM 782, Developmental Genetics
BCHM 790, Current Topics in Biomedicine
GEN 715, Molecular Evolution

III. One of the following biochemistry courses
BCHM 702, Endocrinology
BCHM 750, Physical Biochemistry,
or CHEM 683, 684, Physical Chemistry I, II
BCHM 763, Biochemistry of Cancer
BCHM 794, Protein Structure and Function
BCHM 790, Current Topics in Biomedicine

IV. One of the following laboratory techniques courses
BCHM 754, Laboratory in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Nucleic Acids,
or BCHM 799, Senior Thesis (4 cr.),
or BCHM 795, Investigations in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (4 cr.)
ANSC 714, Research Methods in Endocrinology,
or ANSC 751, Cell Culture
CHEM 756, Advanced Organic Chemistry Laboratory,

MICR 602, Pathogenic Microbiology,
or MICR 704, Genetics of Prokaryotic Microbes,
or MICR 705, Immunology,
or MICR 706/708, Virology and Virology Lab,
or MICR 717, Microbial Physiology
PBIO 753, Cytogenetics
PBIO 774/775, Plant Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

V. One additional course from groups II-IV
The biochemistry curriculum provides most of the required and recommended courses for students seeking admission to professional schools in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy. Students who major in biochemistry can also use their training in conjunction with advanced degrees in law and business.

Approximately 50 percent of the students who graduate with a major in biochemistry seek advanced degrees. Many biochemistry majors go on to attend graduate school in all areas of the life and biomedical sciences, especially graduate programs in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and chemistry. Recipients of an M.S. degree are more attractive to employers and often obtain better positions, greater salaries, and more responsibility and independence. A Ph.D. degree is eventually required for those who wish to direct research programs, be involved in state-of-the-art scientific research, become a professor in a college or university, or obtain an executive position in a science-related area of industry or government.

Students obtaining the B.S. in biochemistry enjoy excellent job prospects immediately upon graduation. There is currently a demand for skilled research technicians in biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, forensics, academic research laboratories, and hospitals. Students graduating in biochemistry have knowledge that is valuable in the fields of management, sales, marketing, regulatory affairs, technical writing, and scientific journalism. With additional courses in education, the B.S. in biochemistry also qualifies graduates to teach at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels.

A combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biochemistry
This is a five-year program leading to a combined bachelor and master’s degree in biochemistry. It is designed for highly motivated and qualified students seeking additional training to further their career goals as a researcher in the life sciences.

Admission Policy
Admission to the combined degree program is highly competitive. Students wishing to pursue this option must have a grade-point average greater than 3.20 at the time of application. A thesis adviser must be identified during the junior year, and the approval of the adviser and department chairperson must be obtained. Prior to the first semester of the senior year, the student must formally apply to the Graduate School and receive early admission. The requirement for the Graduate Record Examinations is waived for combined degree applicants.

Thirty credits of graduate level (800-900) coursework (including dual credit courses) must be completed. Six to 8 credits must be taken during the senior year, and are applied to both the B.S. and M.S. requirements. All other requirements for the M.S. degree (see Graduate School catalog) must be followed, including completion of preliminary exams, conducting a research project, and passing an oral examination based on the master’s thesis project.

Suggested Program
Because of the intensive nature of the combined degree program, the thesis research project should be initiated as early as possible. A guidance committee should be established no later than the beginning of the fifth year to approve the student’s proposed course of study. The following schedule is recommended:

Junior year
Identify thesis adviser and begin research project during the summer following junior year.

Senior year
Senior thesis (BCHM 799) during both semesters and the following summer, along with two dual-credit courses (800/900 level).

Fall semester, fifth year
Two 800/900 level courses (6-8 cr.)
BCHM 997 (1 cr.)
BCHM 899 (5 cr.)

Spring semester and summer, fifth year
One 800/900 level course (3-4 cr.)
BCHM 998 (1 cr.)
BCHM 899 (5 cr.)
Special topics (1-2 cr. as needed)

Research should be completed and the master’s thesis defended during the summer.

Students in the B.S./M.S. program are eligible for support through University Financial Aid. Additional support may be available from the student’s adviser.

General Science Certification
See Department of Education and COLSA/Degrees.

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