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Thread: Biochemistry and molecular biology

  1. #1 Biochemistry and molecular biology 
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    Forgive my ignorance, but, though I scored quite well in bio chemistry in high school, I never took sciences in university. But what's the difference between biochemistry and molecular biology? I would think that the study of the chemistry of biology would be the same as the study of molecules in biology.


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  3. #2  
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    I agree that the you can’t figure out the differences solely by their names.

    Biochemistry studies the chemistry of life (maybe wiki will give you a proper definition). Hence it mainly handles about proteins, being the building blocks of life. But also DNA and RNA is studied but always in relation to understand and describe living processes.

    Molecular biology tells us about the biology at molecular level. These courses mainly describe molecular techniques which have been developed, like cloning, PCR, blotting, etc…

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    Biochemistry is more concerned with proteins and their structures and how the interact with each other.
    The most important concept of Biochemistry (as with nearly all biology) is structure/function. Basically, the shape and location of a protein dictates its function, like your eye has a ceratin shape and arrangment that allows it to function as an eye, or your hand is shaped in such a way that allows it to perform ceratin tasks, so it is with protiens and peptides.

    Molecular Biology generally looks at a smaller scale and consists of alot of RNA and DNA work. It tends to look at the atomic scale rather than the larger macromolecular interactions of proteins etc. although there is some cross over between molecular biology and biochemistry as there usually is between disciplines. There are many grey areas which interact and affect each other, like biochemists often look at the atomic interactions in an binding or catalytic site where as a molecular biologist might look at the larger scale structure of DNA and RNA or peptide interactions.

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    Thanks, both of you.

    So the study of genetic engineering would involve the study of molecular biology, as opposed to biochemistry?
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    Yeah, pretty much for the intial genetic modification/engineering and gene products (i.e mRNA) would be molecular biology. Assesing your final product (i.e the protien), its folding and activities would require some biochemistry.

    The two are quite closely linked as in the real world situation, they are part of a chain of events that flow from one to the other, changing and regulating each other.

    When I did my degree they were both part of my major 'Biochemistry and Molecular biology' partly because of the school structure and class sizes, partly because they are closely linked to each other.
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    Thanks. I'm interested in genetic engineering, so I guess I should learn a bit of both, but focus on molecular biology, is that it?
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    Well, no focus on genetics as your major if its offered.
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    Well I've studied both biochem and molecular bio, I disagree with the previous distinctions.

    Biochem is the study of the properties and structures of biological compounds: proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids.

    Molecular biology is the study of life at the molecular level, thus it involves using biochemistry and genetics to understand how life functions at that level.

    Usually if you want to study genetics, you would major in biology or microbiology and focus on genetics.
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  10. #9  
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    I agree with tiredsleepy. And genetics is definitely a big enough field to allow a focus of its own.
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  11. #10  
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    But wouldn't the study of genetic engineering require the study of molecular biology? i mean, genes are made of molecules.
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    I think you are focusing a little too much on the semantics. If genetics is what you want to study, then tailor your studies to it. If you're looking at schools or departments or classes, don't just judge by the name they choose to call themselves, read the detailed descriptions of their focus and aims.

    And depending on exactly what you want to genetically engineer in the future, you may want to take time to study some subjects that might not be categorized in a chemical/molecular/cellular department. For example, if you want to genetically engineer crop plants, then obviously some classes in agriculture and plant physiology would do you good.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  13. #12  
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    Good point. So the focus is genetic engineering - straight to the point.
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  14. #13  
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    I'm a microbiologist/molecular biologist in a biology department, but did biochemistry at university. Most of my work involves manipulating DNA, which is the same for lots of science jobs regardless of what field they are in.

    I would always recommend taking biochemistry to anyone planning on working in science in the future. It gives you a bit of everything and means you don't end up specialising in some area too early - you can usually pick specific areas to learn in more detail in the final year. I didn't take biology as it can mean everything from plants to bacteria to the human body to throwing quadrats in a field! With a biochemistry degree, you can move into pretty much any field but something focused like genetics will make it hard to change your mind later.
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    Thanks for the insight. I'm a lawyer, and I agree that, in your profession, you should have the education so you can be flexible in your career, especially in your formative years. But I'm not an undergrad; I have three degrees and two years in computer programming (which I took in my last sabbatical).

    I won't be doing anything now, but I may be going on my next sabbatical in a few years, and, since I think genetic engineering may be the wave of the future, I want to focus on that.

    Of course, I study whatever I want, so my time may be focused on mathematics, nuclear engineering/physics, and genetic engineering. I figure I can take two years off to explore.
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    My prediction if you are interested in genetic engineering.

    Skip all that biochemistry/biology crap and focus on computerscience.

    There are many entry levels on the topic of genetic engineering and do you really want to be pipetting solutions, or actually designing the solutions?

    Huge databases that need to be mined. computer science, modeling and algorythms will be the key.

    All the pipetting work will go to china.
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  17. #16  
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    I have two years of computer programming, and my first degree involved a substantial amount of mathematics. I presume that running an advanced lab will involve different skill sets, of which mathematics would be one of them. If so, then that's in my alley.

    What's pippeting?
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  18. #17  
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    Pippeting? No idea. Pipetting on the other hand is measuring specific volumes, usually a milliliter or less, with a device known as a pipettor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipette
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