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Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

How does life work at the molecular level? This question is at the core of the concentration program Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In earlier years of this discipline, the focus was on structure and function of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates and small molecules such as vitamins. Today the logical approach and tools of biochemical science are being expanded to new areas in neuroscience, developmental biology, immunology, pharmacology and synthetic biology (the design of analogs of biological systems). Training in biochemistry begins with a foundation in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Some courses offered in other departments, including engineering, geology and computer science, are also useful. A key component of this program is the year of hands-on research carried out in collaboration with a faculty member here at Brown. Faculty sponsors are drawn from both the Chemistry Department and the Division of Biology and Medicine, and include basic science and clinical faculty.

Standard program for the Sc.B. degree

Students must take twenty courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, including the following core requirements, some of these may be fulfilled with AP credits. Students are expected to take courses that will count toward the concentration ABC/NC.  Students should discuss the S/NC option with their concentration advisor if circumstances warrant consideration.  Students should not register S/NC for a concentration course without advisor pre-approval.

Three courses in mathematics, statistics and/or computer science, typically including MATH 0090, MATH 0100, or equivalent) 13
Two courses in physics, typically: 12
Basic Physics
Foundations of Mechanics
Introduction to Engineering
Basic Physics
Foundations of Electromagnetism and Modern Physics
Dynamics and Vibrations
Three courses in physical and organic chemistry:3
Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
Organic Chemistry
One course in biophysical or related chemistry:1
Biophysical and Bioinorganic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Instrumental Analysis with Environmental Applications
Instrumental Analysis with Environmental Applications
Three courses in biochemistry:3
Introductory Biochemistry
Advanced Biochemistry
Chemical Biology
Select two semester courses of independent research approved by a concentration advisor:2
Directed Research/Independent Study
Undergraduate Research
Suggested Elective Courses:
Students are required to take six (6) elective courses: four (4) taken from the chart below and two (2) from any science or mathematics course relevant to biochemistry, cell and molecular biology from the suggested courses below:4
Biology Electives:
The Foundation of Living Systems
The Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease
Microbes in the Environment
Cell and Molecular Biology
Principles of Immunology
Principles of Physiology
Biology of the Eukaryotic Cell
Polymer Science for Biomaterials
Cell Physiology and Biophysics
Topics in Signal Transduction
Protein Biophysics and Structure
Synthetic Biological Systems
Physiological Pharmacology
Cancer Biology
Developmental Biology
Biology of Reproduction
Innate Immunity
Molecular Genetics
Development of Vaccines to Infectious Diseases
Drug and Gene Delivery
Neuroscience Electives: 2
The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience
Biology of Hearing
Principles of Neurobiology
Introduction to Neurogenetics
Neuropharmacology and Synaptic Transmission
Chemistry Electives:
Inorganic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry: Quantum Chemistry
Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
Computational Tools in Biochemistry and Chemical Biology
Chemical Biology
Advanced Organic Chemistry
Computer Science Electives:
Computational Molecular Biology
Quantitative Science or Mathematics Electives:2
Select two electives from any quantitative science or mathematics course relevant to biochemistry (including courses on the preceding list) and approved by a concentration advisor.
Total Credits20

Note that the mathematics and physics requirements may be satisfied by Advanced Placement credit.


or any NEUR course in Cell, Genetics, Molecular Biology, or Development.

Honors Requirements for Biochemistry

All ScB Biochemistry concentrators are candidates for Honors; no separate application is necessary.

The requirements for Honors in Biochemistry are:

* A strong grade record in concentration courses. This means a grade point average for the concentration that is higher than 3.25.

* Two semesters of Independent Study (CHEM 0970, CHEM 0980 or equivalent. Guidelines and requirements associated with Independent Study are in the Undergraduate Concentration Handbook which can be found at the department website.

* A Thesis in a form approved by the research advisor, and recommended by the research advisor.  Additional information about thesis guidelines will be provided by the Concentration Advisor in the first half of the fall semester.