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Science Education: Chemistry and Biochemistry

A 3-D model of the alkaloid serratezomine A. Credit: Johnston Group.Understanding the interactions between molecules—that's chemistry. And understanding the chemistry that occurs in living organisms—that's biochemistry. Studies in these areas focus on questions like:

  • How do enzymes generate cellular energy and facilitate chemical reactions?
  • What roles do natural substances like fats and sugars play in our bodies?
  • How can we use chemistry to design new medicines?

Follow the links below to learn more about chemistry and biochemistry, including recent discoveries, and read profiles of researchers working in these fields.


Cover image of The Chemistry of HealthThe Chemistry of Health
Showcases the many ways that chemistry is helping make the world healthier.

Computing LifeComputing Chemistry from Computing Life
Explores how combining chemistry and computers helps scientists develop new medicines and new materials.

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Classroom Poster

Cover image of Chemistry of Health PosterThe Chemistry of Health Poster
Get inspired by chemistry.

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Fact Sheet

DNA structureNIGMS Nobelists
NIGMS has a strong track record of funding scientists who receive Nobel Prizes. Learn about NIGMS-funded scientists who have received a Nobel Prize for their chemistry-related discoveries.

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Research News

Aspirin. Credit: Stock imageAspirinís Dual Action
Ever wonder how aspirin knocks out aches? The medicine can help reverse inflammation and prevent it from occurring.

Bacteria. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Carbohydrates as Bacterial Camouflage: How Our Immune System Responds
While some bacteria are invisible to our immune system's antibodies, others are easily detected by galectins, a class of proteins naturally produced by our bodies.

CompoundNew Compound Improves Insulin Levels in Preliminary Studies
A newly designed fluorescent biosensor shows where Rac1, a molecule involved in cancer metastasis, is active in a cell.

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Genetic change that causes myotonic dystrophy type 2. Credit: Ilyas Yildirim, Northwestern University.Basic Research Fuels Medical Advances
Some 300,000 NIH-funded scientists are working on projects aimed at improving disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention, often through increasing understanding of basic life processes.

Chemical structureThe Greening of Chemistry
Researchers are developing new reactions that make the chemical processes used to manufacture medicines, plastics and other products cleaner, faster and cheaper.

MetalsMetals: In Sickness and in Health
We're not quite Iron Man, but metals are intricately entwined with our bodies. They make vital functions like respiration, circulation and reproduction possible.

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Profiles: Meet a Chemist

Janarthanan JayawickramarajahSmart Molecules
Organic/biochemist Janarthanan Jayawickramarajah designs "smart molecules" that will shut down cancer cells while leaving the healthy ones untouched.

Amy PalmerMesmerized by Metals
Biochemist Amy Palmer tracks zinc in brain cells to uncover the causes of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and prostate cancer.

Brian BachmanDrugs from Deep Down
Biosynthetic chemist Brian Bachman studies secondary metabolites found in caves to help find cures for diseases.

More profiles from The Chemistry of Health and Findings

Audio and Video

Blood vesselsCool Video: Repurposing Genes, Repurposing Drugs
Using an evolutionary approach, researchers have determined that a compound used to treat parasitic and fungal infections could also reduce the size of tumors.

Audio fileDr. Martin Burke on Being a Chemist
Martin Burke discusses his current research and how he got interested in it.

Michael RogersDr. Michael Rogers on Small-Molecule Chemistry
NIGMS' Michael Rogers talks about small-molecule chemistry.

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Fruitful DyesFruitful Dyes
These colorful, computer-generated ribbons show the backbone of a molecule that glows a fluorescent red.

Carbon Building BlocksCarbon Building Blocks
The arrangement of identical molecular components can make a dramatic difference.

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Chemistry of Health crosswordThe Chemistry of Health Crossword Puzzle | Accessible Version

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More chemistry games and puzzles | All quizzes and puzzles

This page last reviewed on September 16, 2014