Friday, November 24, 2006

Biochemistry Major

How many universities have a biochemistry major? My students want to know if most universites have such a program. We know that it's common in Canadian universities. What about the rest of the world?

14 comments:

  1. (Intro: I found your blog through A Blog Around The Clock, but I'm also a PhD student in your department!)

    I actually came to Toronto to do my PhD because Biochemistry seemed to have more of a separate status here than it has at any of the universities in Holland. They changed the university system a bit after I left, especially concerning boundaries of minors and majors. Those terms didn't exist when I did my degree there. To end up with a degree in biochemistry at my university, you had to be enrolled in either Chemistry or Biology, and even then your final degree would say "Chemistry" or "Biology" and just mention that you did your major research project in Biochemistry. I "majored" in Biochemistry for all intents and purposes, but my first two years were filled with a lot of required hardcore chemistry and physics before I got to pick the life science stream in third year and work in a lab in the Biochemistry research group.
    But now they changed the university system to make it more international (with separate bachelor/master - before it was masters or nothing), and it's possible that Biochemistry ended up as a separate degree at any of the universities. I tried to Google it, and found it as a definite specialty/major in Antwerp (Belgium), but I'm still not sure about the Dutch universities.

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  2. The University of Washington, which I attended, had a biochemistry major (as well as both Cell & Molecular Biology and also microbiology), and I was never under the impression that it was an unusual major. It seemed like a major for a lot of premeds. Frankly, it seemed like a lot of people majored in it because they thought it sounded smarter than regular biology, and didn't want to be chemistry majors. But that's just an impression.

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  3. I have two friends who studied (you could say "majored in," but we don't call it that) Biochemistry here in the UK. One at the University of York and one at the University of Manchester. The latter has gone on to do a PhD involving programmed cell death in plants.

    I think it's a fairly common course here. A quick search on http://www.ucas.com/search/index.html revealed 105 universities offering it.

    Hello, by the way. First time commenter (should that be commentator?)

    Jamie

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  4. The Univeristy of Copenhagen, Denmark , has a biochemist major, and I assume that this holds true as well for some, or all, of the other Danish universities.

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  5. Larry,

    It is quite common in the US to have Biochemistry programs. I got my BS in Biochem at VT, as well as a BA Chem.

    http://www.biochem.vt.edu/

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  6. UMM is a rather small university, but we do have what we call an area of concentration in biochemistry, as a subfield of the chemistry major. We are expanding the course offerings there as staffing allows, I understand.

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  7. As Jamie has noted, BioChem is a common degree program in the UK (and in other European countries). I graduated with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Imperial College, London, where it was actually the default molecular life science program, incorporating molecular and cell biology, neuro, biophysics and biotech, etc.
    The biology program was much more organismal, whereas biochemistry was molecular. That was the prevailing attitude in the late '90s.

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  9. The University of Oslo got a bachelor program in Molecular Biology and Biological Chemistry (which I happen to be enrolled in). After 1.5 years it spilts into 3 different routes which the student can choose; Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Chemistry. The Biochemistry path got a lot of chemical/biochemical/molecular biology subjects so I guess you might say it's a "major".

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  10. My major in high school was Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Different educational system, obviously.

    And sure, here at NCSU, there is a large and thriving Biochem department.

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  11. Both universities I've been affiliated with have biochem majors. At one school, all the Biology majors fall under the umbrella of the Biological Sciences undergrad program. You can concentrate in one of the many biology subdisciplines (biochem, genet & devel, eco/evo, etc). At the school I'm currently at, the Biology Department offers a Biology Major, and the Biochem and Molec Bio dept offers a Biochem Molec Biol major.

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  12. Thanks everyone. At the University of Toronto we have a Biochemistry Major (we call it a Specialist) as well as progams in Immunology, Molecular Genetics, Bioinformatics, Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Biological Chemistry, Biophysics, and (soon) Cell Biology.

    We also have three variations of Human Biology; Genes, Genetics & Biothechnology; Health & Disease; and Human Behavioural Biology. Here's a complete list of all academic programs.

    Do other schools have such a wide range of undergraduate programs? Is it a good idea?

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  13. I earned a Biochem degree from Oklahoma State University. It's a top notch program in my opinion, which doesn't count for much since I don't know about other programs ;). I thought most universities had Biochem degrees.

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  14. In my youth, I earned a biochemistry undergrad degree at UC Berkeley. At that time (in the late 1980s) there were individual biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology & immunology, cell biology and other biological science departments. Those were eventually consolidated into just two main departments: Molecular and Cell Biology (which has a biochemistry division) and Integrative Biology (including ecology, evolution, anatomy & physiology, paleontology). I personally like the more integrated approach, since even 20 years ago people doing research in the biochemistry department were really incorporating molecular biology and cell biology into their research programs. Even someone who focuses exclusively on enzyme kinetics can benefit from an understanding of evolution and genetics. Maybe it's just my perception, but a lot of what I'd consider "pure biochemistry" (i.e., chemistry of biological processes without worrying too much about what is actually going on in living systems) has shifted over to chemistry departments.

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