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Concentrations 101: Chemical Biology

What is chemical biology?

Chemical biology is primarily organic chemistry with some biochemical aspects. If you like organic chemistry and related fields like drug discovery and chemical synthesis but aren't sold on the rest of the chemistry concentration, you may like chembio. There are small, close-knit classes and lots of group projects, many of which are inquiry-based, so it is very similar to iSci.

What is the difference between biochemistry and chemical biology?

Chemical biology focuses on small molecules (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) that make up proteins, membranes and mechanistically control pathways in the body. Labs perform techniques such as mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy.


Biochemistry focuses on proteins and nucleic acids (i.e. DNA and RNA) in the body, rather than individual molecules. Labs utilize techniques such as PCR and gel electrophoresis.

Why some upper years chose this concentration:

“I liked orgo but wasn't sold on the rest of the chemistry concentration, and I wanted to pursue drug development"


“I like organic chemistry, and the course content interests me”


“I chose this concentration because I love organic chemistry (every time I say that  I knock on wood, waiting for orgo to knock me on my back as punishment for getting too comfortable, like "you didn't know any better! This is where it gets hard!") But I've been enjoying almost all the course work and like the material I'm learning in all my chembio classes. I didn't want to do straight chem because I'm not a fan of thermo and all the physics in disguise, and I preferred chem over bio, hence chembio over biochem.”

What courses are required?


There are no specific first year electives are required for this concentration.

Have more questions? Upper year contacts

Julia Pantaleo (Class of 2018)

Maha Dogar (Class of 2021)

Juliette Froelich (Class of 2021)