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
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.