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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 developments, 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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Science Highlights

Representation of a glycanSugar Rush in Research
Simple sugars such as those in cookie icing provide the finishing touches on many holiday treats. Versions of these molecules also serve important functions in our cells.

Bacillus subtilis biofilm. Credit: SŁel Lab, UCSD.Bacterial Biofilms: A Charged Environment
Bacterial cells in tight-knit communities use electrical signaling to communicate and cooperate with each other.

Bacterial 'Fight Clubs' and the Search for New Medicines
Competition encourages bacteria to produce compounds with therapeutic potential that they would otherwise hold in reserve.

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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

Cool Video: Watching Bacteria Turn Virulent
Researchers used an apparatus that mimics realistic bacterial settings to better understandóand blockóthe communication system that allows some bacteria to cause dangerous infections.

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.

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Modular microfluidics system. Credit: University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering.Cool Image: Snap-Together Laboratory
Like snapping Lego blocks together to build a fanciful space station, scientists have developed a new way to assemble a sophisticated laboratory tool for manipulating small volumes of fluids.

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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This page last reviewed on May 13, 2016