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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
July 30, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence


Picture of a chemistry student working on a fourth year thesis project.

Biochemistry



This Biochemistry & Biotechnology program is a rigorous Chemistry based Biochemistry/Biotechnology program with an emphasis in the senior elective courses on Biomedical applications of Biochemistry.

Details of the program are available from the course calendar or for more information please contact the Undergraduate Advisor for the Department of Chemistry.



What is Biochemistry ?

Biochemistry is concerned with the study of chemical reactions that occur in different life forms, or organisms. Organisms grow, reproduce, obtain energy from their surroundings, build new organic molecules from old ones, repair themselves, and respond to external stimuli. Biochemistry is a very rapidly growing subdiscipline of Chemistry, explaining biological processes in the language of Chemistry. Biotechnology is the application of Biochemistry in the development of new pharmaceuticals, new industrial processes, and new medical diagnostic techniques.

Biochemists must be familiar with both basic chemical and biological concepts. Laurier Science's distinctive Biochemistry/Biotechnology program has been developed to provide the core understanding of chemistry, organic, physical, inorganic, and analytical chemistries, and important aspects of biology and molecular biology, so that graduates of this program will be well prepared to pursue exciting careers.

The group of molecules that are studied in biochemistry are referred to as biomolecules. They can be considered to be macromolecules because generally they are quite large. Biochemists are keenly interested in the interrelationship between the function and structure of these molecules. Their function refers to how they are involved in cellular processes and the function of biomolecules are highly dependent on their three dimensional structure, how the different atoms of these molecules are organized. Some biomolecules that one may be familiar with or at least have heard about include DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), proteins, enzymes, lipids, and vitamins. The organization of these molecules, their interactions, and the structural transformations that they undergo as they perform their function occupies the research interests of all biochemists. The intellectual challenges are vast and there are exciting and rewarding experiences for biochemists who create new knowledge that improves our understanding of the molecular processes fundamental to life itself.

The human genome project, a project that has unravelled the molecular sequence of human genes, has created an even greater interest in the study of biochemistry. Knowledge of the function and structural interrelationships of the products that result from these genes are keys to understanding diseases such as cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and many others.

Biochemistry at Laurier

Laurier Science's Biochemistry/Biotechnology program recognizes the importance of these discoveries and its senior courses have been developed to have a biomedical slant.

Currently there are two biochemistry faculty members in the department, both being active researchers. Dr. Masoud Jelokhani-Niaraki is interested in synthesizing and studying antimicrobial peptides, and their interactions with complex biomolecular structures located on cell surfaces. Dr. Arthur Szabo, the Dean of the Faculty, has an international reputation for studying protein-protein interactions combining advanced molecular biology techniques with optical spectroscopic methods. The Department is planning to recruit additional biochemistry faculty during the next two years. The Department's faculty are excited by the opportunities that this dynamic program provides.

The department has well equipped undergraduate laboratories, built within the past 10 years, and has brand new research laboratories in the new Laurier Science Research Centre. Undergraduate students benefit from this research intensive environment throughout the undergraduate program but especially in fourth year when every student is required to do a senior thesis research project. This hands-on experience is what makes a biochemical education at Laurier especially rewarding.


Career Opportunities in Biochemistry/Biotechnology

There are an unlimited number of career opportunities for biochemistry/biotechnology graduates. They go on to study medicine, or prepare themselves for other health science professions. Others find that research in biochemistry leads to rewarding careers in research institutes, universities, and pharmaceutical companies. Canada is one of the leaders in the establishment of biotechnology industries in the world. No wonder that there are such a large number of employment opportunities for graduates of Laurier Science's Biochemistry/Biotechnology program. The Biological Human Resource Council of Canada has a website devoted to careers biochemistry/biotechnology.







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