Introduction to Biochemistry (Undergraduate Series)

To be launched August 2019
Prof. Gerald W. Feigenson
Cornell University, USA

Life is fascinating at many different levels, from interconnected groups of organisms, to individual life forms, to individual living cells, to individual but interconnected molecules within and outside of cells. Here we examine Life at the smallest of these size scales, noticing the properties of each type of biomolecule and... read morehow the molecules interact with each other.

We will see proteins as a remarkable state of matter that evolved to carry out often complex tasks. Proteins are partially understood at the level of interacting atoms and molecules, which is to say, their chemistry. We will see biological membranes to be a special state of matter with daunting complexity. We will look at carbohydrates and see simple and important sugars, some simple polymers of these sugars such as cellulose, and other sugar polymers that are more complex.

With this knowledge in hand, the last part of this series is about metabolism, the actual chemical reactions in living systems. We want to understand how glucose is used and how photosynthesis works, which chemical reactions occur and how they are controlled in everyday life. Then we can start to appreciate what can go wrong.

We have chosen to discuss very little of how DNA and RNA fit into biochemistry. This area is often termed "molecular biology" and is perhaps best taught as its own coherent course.