DeBlogs > Tom Hagerman > chemical_biology

CHE 348: Chemical Biology

As a senior chemistry major I am getting to some of the coolest classes for my degree.  This quarter I’m in my first of three concentration electives, chemical biology.  Chemical biology seems like a silly name, considering that there is a field called biochemistry, but I promise there is a difference!

The class is taught by Dr. Caitlin Karver.  I had Dr. Karver for the organic chemistry sequence my sophomore year (one year, three quarters of organic chemistry) and I now TA for her organic chemistry 3 class.  Dr. Karver is also my research advisor.  It’s really nice to know the professor well for my concentration classes ​because I feel comfortable asking questions in and out of class, and I also feel more engaged knowing how excited the professor is about the subject. 

We’ve read some incredible papers, and we’ve also read some not so incredible papers (only two or so).   Each week of the class has been devoted to a certain topic in chemical biology, ranging from activity-based probes to target identification and all sorts of combinations in between. I’ve been able to investigate things from a chemist’s standpoint, but everything that we have talked about has medical applications.  For instance, we read a paper by that talked about a probe that may be able to identify the margins of specific tumors.  We also read a paper that developed a method to identify antibody biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease.  The method they developed could potentially be used to determine if a person has Alzheimer’s or if they may soon develop Alzheimer’s.  Another paper used fatty acid content in blood samples of mice to determine the effect of potential inhibitors.  All of the papers we have discussed have brought up tons of interesting applications of chemistry and the ways people all over the world are investigating different biological phenomena. 

The class has absolutely affirmed my choice two years ago to change my major to chemistry.  Essentially, this class is what I was looking for from my chemistry undergraduate education.  I wanted to be able to connect my interest in chemistry to my interest in medicine, and this class has absolutely shown how chemists are so intimately connected to the medical field.

Below are a few of the recent covers from four of the many journals that we’ve been reading from throughout the quarter.