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Biology vs biochemistry

  1. Jun 16, 2005 #1
    What is the difference between biology and biochemistry?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2005 #2
    um biology studies stuff like molecular biology, cell biology, plants, ecology, evolution(population dynamics), math, genetics, human biology

    biochemistry is sometimes a subfield of biology depending on where you look usually just
    lkooking at biology at the chemistry level...macromolecules,drugs,and most things similar to biology just using more chemistry.
  4. Jun 17, 2005 #3
    biology=biochemistry +.....
  5. Jun 17, 2005 #4
    I completely disagree with this.

    Biochemistry is not biology. It is chemistry. And furthermore, biochemistry is not a subset of biology.

    Thats like saying calculus is a subset of physics. While one may have overlapping areas with the other, they are completely different areas of study. Biologists and biochemists don't even speak the same language, for Pete's sake!

    So tell me then, Samantha: what is the difference between biochemistry and molecular biology?
  6. Jun 17, 2005 #5
    Uhm that is what I wanna know... what is biochemistry and what is biology.
  7. Jun 17, 2005 #6
    physicsuser, i was replying to samanthakrjx's post.

    biochemistry is the branch of chemistry dealing with the both the chemical rxns and forces (i.e. binding) that occur in biological systems. biochemists ask questions like "what is the rate of reaction for this enzyme? what is the Km, or Vmax?". they deal with biological phenomena, like protein pathways, nucleic acids, etc. but from the perspective of chemistry. thermodynamics and organic chemistry play a heavy role for them, which makes them chemists and not biologists.

    biology is a much broader area of science, and does NOT include biochemistry (contrary to samantha's post). it does, however, include molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, population biology, zoology, i can go on and on here.

    why don't you do everyone a favor and just check wikipedia.
  8. Jun 18, 2005 #7
    I think biochemistry is part of biology.

    Biology is the science of life, so the chemistry happening in living things is part of biology also. Molecular biology isn't chemistry or physics. Its biology with chemistry, physics and some math too. Same with biochemistry.

    The chemistry of life is obviously both chemistry and biology.
  9. Jun 18, 2005 #8
    It isn't.

    If you go to a university, biochemists belong to the chemistry department, not the biology department. They speak a different language, they do different research.

    We can argue whether you think biochemistry
    should be considered a part of biology, but it isn't.

    Is biophysics also biology? No, it is a branch of physics. If you go to a meeting you will find the biophysicists hanging out with physicists. If you read their papers, they are talking the language of physics, not biology, etc...
  10. Jun 18, 2005 #9


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    On the other hand molecular biology IS a part of biology!
  11. Jun 18, 2005 #10
    I guess to prevent people like quetzalcoatl9 from going over the top and blowing their caps off... most universities now have departments for Biochemistry and Biophysics that are separate, but immensely affiliated with the departments for chemistry and biology for the first, and physics and biology for the second.
  12. Jun 18, 2005 #11


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    I have studied biochemistry at college, this was part of the chemistry department (I studied biology & medicine at the biology department in the first year, but decided I rather wanted to do the biotech side of things and not the medical diagnostics part that was emphasized). There really is no difference, I missed pathology courses and medical diagnostics courses and did mass spectrometry and hplc courses instead: a bit more physical.

    Then I moved on to study medical biochemistry part of the biomedical sciences program, which is part of the universities' biology department.

    I did some work at a biochemistry department; they do study enzyme rates and what proteins inhibit enzymes, but that is not where the science stops. Perhaps pure biochemistry should be considered a chemical science, strictly speaking it is the chemistry of biological molecules.. that does not mean that a biochemistry department is not involved with immunology/ protein modeling/ molecular biology/ genetics etc.
  13. Jun 18, 2005 #12
    it does depend on teh school, most cross disciplines are affiliated with both departments though the coordinator my be in one..
  14. Jun 18, 2005 #13


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    Ok, here is my two-year course summary required for a college biochem degree (there are a bunch of other courses like employment & environmental care, but I didn't include those):

    Chemical calculations
    Physical chemistry: interface/colloidal
    Organic chemistry
    Liquid separation methods
    Spectroscopy UV-VIS
    Theoretical applied statistics
    General equilibria theory
    Inorganic chemistry
    Sample preparation theory
    Spectroscopy: NMR, IR, MS
    Chemical text processing informatics
    Database informatics
    Labcourse electrochemistry
    Labcourse equilibria
    Labcourse organic chemistry
    Labcourse separation methods
    Analytical biochemistry
    Biochemistry topics
    Biochemistry metabolism
    Biochemistry applied genetics
    Biochemistry enzymes
    Physiology, anatomy, pathology: immunology
    Genetic manipulation
    In vitro cultivation
    Theoretical microbiology
    Physiology for biochemists
    Labcourse Cell- and tissue culture
    Labcourse Immunochemistry
    Labcourse analytical biochemistry
    Labcourse microbiology
    Labcourse molecular biology
    Biochemistry essay
  15. Jun 18, 2005 #14


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    My friend would argue otherwise. She started biochem then switch to microbio. She said it was world apart and from my experience, there is difference between a biologist and a biochemist. It is all in the head of a person. My old supervisor was a biochemist and he said that bio and biochem are different.

    Also, most biology do not view biochemist as biologist and most chemist do not view biochemist as chemist. That why some biochemist created molecular biology. If you look at the definition for molecular biology is quite similar to biochemistry. It only forces the biochemist to do a bit more biology.

    Also the course you listed, monique, only a few would be in biology/microbiology and it is usually where biology meets chemistry.

    Here my course load for a microbiology major (minus the research project, the seminars and the "write a review" course):
    Comparative zoology (Lab)
    Comparative plant science (Lab)
    Introduction to microbiology (Lab)
    Cellular biology
    Biochemistry + Lab section
    Genetics (Lab)
    Introduction to microbiology lab methodology
    Statistical methods
    Parasitology (Lab)
    Microbial Ecology
    Eukaryotics cells and viruses genetics & molecular biology
    Bacterial pathogenesis (Lab)
    Food microbiology (Lab)
    Bacterial Genetics (Lab)

    Some elective class i took:
    Veterinary & Medical Entomology
    Animal Pathogenesis
    Biological control of insect pest

    My other electives were in computer science (1), economics (5) and ethics (1).

    In my opinion, the biologist study the organism (and its environement) as a whole. The biochemist only study the chemical process of an organism.
  16. Jun 18, 2005 #15


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    I don't think so, see:

    metabolism, applied genetics, cellbiology, physiology, anatomy, pathology: immunology, genetic manipulation, immunochemistry, in vitro cultivation, theoretical microbiology, physiology for biochemists, labcourse cell- and tissue culture, labcourse immunochemistry, labcourse analytical biochemistry, labcourse microbiology, labcourse molecular biology

    the only courses missing are:
    Comparative zoology (Lab)
    Comparative plant science (Lab)
    Parasitology (Lab)
    Microbial Ecology

    and honesty I wouldn't miss those.
    In the traditional sense that is true, but biology now reaches inside the cell and how cells interact to form an organism (or disease).. that's what modern biology is about.
  17. Jun 19, 2005 #16
    I was always led to believe:

    Molecular Biology = DNA, Genes
    Biochemistry = Proteins.
    Biology = Macro life processes

    Which did hold in my university for the first 2 years. Then for some bizzare reason in third year, molecular bio was lumped in with biochem and mixed it with immunology, genetics, and epidemiology - and called it Biochemistry. hmmmm...
  18. Jun 19, 2005 #17


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    Nowadqays mol;ecular biology is deep into "proteomics" - gene/RNA/protein interaction, plus protein folding and dynamics.
  19. Jun 19, 2005 #18
    i agree with this completely, you have put things well.

    i have been involved in research (both as an undergraduate and graduate student) in an area of biochemistry that is somewhat close to biology, so i have seen first hand the differences that you are talking about.

    someone who has not been in that position would have no idea how different the 2 fields really are, they approach problems completely differently. i agree that the gap has narrowed a little with molecular studies, but not to the point where i would say that they are the same, and
    certainly not that one is subset of another, that is just silly..
  20. Jun 19, 2005 #19
    this is, in fact, close to the truth.
  21. Jun 19, 2005 #20


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    You're right, I don't know what route the monarch butterfly travels to migrate from mexico to canada.. so I am not a biologist in that ecology sense. I also don't know all the different species of pigeons, so I am not a biologist in that sense either.

    There are so many new fields of biology now: genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, structural genomics, functional genomics, pharmacogenomics, toxicogenomics, chemical genomics or chemogenomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, ribonomics, proteogenomics, reverse proteomics, reverse genomics -- just naming the different -omics fields :tongue2:
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