The Teaching of Biochemistry: An Innovative Course Sequence Based on the Logic of Chemistry

Document Type


Publication Date



Biochemistry | Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Higher Education


An innovative course sequence for the teaching of biochemistry is offered, which more truly reflects the common philosophy found in biochemistry texts: that the foundation of biological phenomena can best be understood through the logic of chemistry. Topic order is chosen to develop an emerging understanding that is based on chemical principles. Preeminent biological questions serve as a framework for the course. Lipid and lipid-aggregate structures are introduced first, since it is more logical to discuss the intermolecular association of simple amphiphiles to form micelle and bilayer formations than to discuss the complexities of protein structure/folding. Protein, nucleic acid, and carbohydrate structures are studied next. Binding, a noncovalent process and the simplest expression of macromolecular function, follows. The physical (noncovalent) transport of solute molecules across a biological membrane is studied next, followed by the chemical transformation of substrates by enzymes. These are logical extensions of the expression of molecular function, first involving a simpler (physical transport) and second, a more complex (covalent transformation) process. The final sequence involves energy and signal transduction. This unique course sequence emerges naturally when chemical logic is used as an organizing paradigm for structuring a biochemistry course. Traditional order, which seems to reflect historic trends in research, or even an order derived from the central dogma of biology cannot provide this logical framework.


DOI: 10.1021/ed075p734