The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program is interdisciplinary, with foundations in Chemistry and Biology. The two degrees that are offered are distinguished mainly in emphasis: a degree in Biochemistry emphasizes the chemical basis of biological systems, while a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology emphasizes how molecules affect biological phenomenology. Differences in coursework reflect these different emphases.
This program offers two majors: Biochemistry, overseen by the chemistry department, and Molecular and Cellular Biology, overseen by the biology department. These majors are designed to serve the needs of students who are interested in graduate study in related fields, medicine and other health professions, or employment in industries involving biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, scientific research, and agricultural development.
Biochemistry and molecular biology are closely related. Both are interdisciplinary, with foundations in chemistry and biology, but there are critical distinctions in what are considered their respective goals. The biochemist wants to understand the chemical basis of biological systems. He or she uses physical and chemical methods to investigate questions about how electrons, atoms and molecules behave in biological systems. The molecular biologist, in contrast, is more interested in identifying the molecules involved in various processes and understanding how these molecules interact with one another as they perform cellular tasks. A convenient way to express this idea is that a biochemist looks at interactions from the molecular level and smaller whereas the molecular biologist looks at interactions from the molecular level and larger.