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Is organic chemistry really necessary for molecular bio research?

  1. Apr 24, 2010 #1

    Simfish

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    So I've always realized that organic chemistry and physical chemistry were huge gaps in my scientific background, and I still can't fill them up for some time, as I have many other subjects to study. But I've read large sections of molecular biology books (like Alberts and Lodish), and I've noticed that my lack of background in chemistry hasn't really affected me at all (I do have chemistry only up to the level of AP Chem and very basic organic chemistry). I've also read some research papers in molecular biology, and I haven't really noticed any impediments from my lack of knowledge yet. It does mean that you have to take on the organic chemistry/physical chemistry on faith, but frankly, much of scientific research *must* be taken on faith, as science is becoming so specialized anyways.

    Even when reading the less technical sections of biochemistry texts (I read lots of psychopharmacology papers as they relate to dopamine research), I can see that I can mostly take things on faith.

    Of course, I do intend to fill in the gap sometime.
     
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  3. Apr 25, 2010 #2

    Monique

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    If you are not going to synthesize new compounds or work with chemical/enzymatic reactions, the subjects are probably not strictly required, but they give you a background that helps you to recognize molecular structures and reaction kinetics. I think they should be required as a basic scientific training.
     
  4. Apr 26, 2010 #3
    If you are going to rely on kits, you probably don't need a formal o-chem background. If you need to couple some molecules yourself, you probably will need o-chem. Much of molecular biology is done in aqueous solution with commercially-available kits using enzyme-mediated reactions and for this sort of work o-chem provides interesting but probably unneeded background. However, if you want to understand the mechanism of a reaction in an enzyme active site, if you want to couple a fluorochrome or affinity tag onto a macromolecule, or if you want to design a small-molecule inhibitor of a biochemical reaction, you will need to use organic chemistry.
     
  5. Apr 26, 2010 #4
    I believe Chemistry is essential to understand Biology to the extend of majoring in the former to understand the latter. Do not take P-chem without first completing two semesters of differential equations.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  6. May 18, 2010 #5
    you would have a much better understanding at your research if you take org. chem first.
    but, it depends on you research. if it involve lot of reactions and making, breaking complexes or how the complax reacts and what affects it has on different things, then yes, you should take org. chem first.

    overall, i would say you will have much better understanding of your experiment if you take org. chem first.
     
  7. May 19, 2010 #6

    Moonbear

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    If you really want to do molecular biology research, I would think organic chemistry is essential. Afterall, it's completely different to read what someone else has done and decide to just trust them on it than to be the one who has to do that experiment and explain it to someone else.

    You can probably get along for some time without it if you're just using molecular biology tools to do your research, but if you're truly a molecular biologist, which means you'd be developing the new tools others will apply, you're going to need a solid understanding of organic chemistry.

    I would be surprised if any decent molecular biology graduate program would even consider an applicant who had never taken organic chemistry.
     
  8. Jan 8, 2011 #7
    Lol this is old, but I was creeping your threads and posting in them so...

    Take a super basic example like the ring formation of simple sugars like glucose.

    Without organic chemistry, you would have to take this on faith.

    On the other hand, with ochem, the structure of linear glucose would strongly suggest the formation of a ring and predicting the ring, and its isomers, formed would be relatively intuitive. Less rote memorization needed.
     
  9. Jan 8, 2011 #8
    Lol this is old, but I was creeping your threads and posting in them so...

    Take a super basic example like the ring formation of simple sugars like glucose.

    Without organic chemistry, you would have to take this on faith.

    On the other hand, with ochem, the structure of linear glucose would strongly suggest the formation of a ring and predicting the ring, and its isomers, formed would be relatively intuitive. Less rote memorization needed.
     
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