What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry seeks to understand life at the level of molecules and their chemistry.  Living processes are studied in terms of the chemical reactions that occur, the structure and conformational changes of molecules, and the binding interactions between molecules.

Biochemistry asks questions such as: 

  •  How do cells convert sugar into energy and ATP?
  •  Why is the protein hemoglobin good at carrying oxygen in the blood?
  •  How do some drugs work as enzyme inhibitors?
  •  How do DNA mutations result in altered protein function?
  •  How do plants convert light into chemical energy?
Metabolic pathway for converting glucose energy into ATP
Structure of hemoglobin protein showing oxygen binding sites
What do biochemists do?

Biochemists follow careers in:

  • Pharmaceutical Industry (drug discovery)                         •  Biotechnology
  • Basic Research (academic & government labs)                •  Medicine (medical school)
  • Agriculture (plant and pesticide development)                 •  Education (teaching)
  • Food Production and Technology
The B.S. Biochemistry Program at Kutztown University

The B.S. Biochemistry degree plan is built around core coursework in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Genetics.  Virtually every course includes a laboratory component, providing a rich hands-on experience throughout the curriculum.  All lectures and labs are taught by faculty - no teaching assistants - while small lab sizes (maximum 16-20 students) allow extensive student-faculty interaction.  Both Chemistry and Biology faculty participate in the program, teaching courses and providing research opportunities.

Research Opportunities

The KU Biochemistry program highly encourages and supports student research experiences.  Biochemistry majors can perform research with faculty on campus or as internships off-campus, and both experiences can count for course credit within the major.  Students regularly present their research at science conferences and can publish with faculty.

  • Facilities

    The modern instrumentation includes thermocyclers for PCR (polymerase chain reaction), a BioTek microplate reader (absorbance, fluorescence, and luminescence), Shimadzu LC-MS tandem mass spectrometer, micro and large capacity centrifuges, protein and DNA electrophoresis apparati, Kodak and Azure digital gel imaging systems, Cary UV-visible spectrophotometers, a PTI fluorescence spectrometer, Agilent HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) systems, a Bio-Rad Gene Pulser, and a Biologic integrated chromatography system for protein purification.

  • Recent student conference presentations
    Student Conference and Project Faculty Mentor
    Brett Graver

    Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Baltimore, MD, May 2019

    The Mechanism of Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein (IAP) Domain Binding to an Apoptotic Caspase

    Dr. Matthew Junker
    Richard Roberts

    Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Baltimore, MD, May 2019

    Microphthalmia with linear skin defects syndrome (MLS) on the molecular level-- probing cytochrome c heme lyase (CCHL) E133 and R199 mutants

    Dr. Carsten Sanders
    Sarah Burke & Huong Tran

    30th Annual Saint Joseph’s University Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium, Philadelphia, PA, April 2019

    Heme protein fragments as bioengineering tools

    Dr. Carsten Sanders
    Mackenzie Storm

    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, April 2018

    Dissecting the function of IAP (Inhibitor of Apoptosis) protein domains in inhibiting an apoptotic caspase

    Dr. Matthew Junker

  • Student outcomes

    Over the past 5 years, at least 86% of B.S. Biochemistry graduates secured employment or entered a graduate or professional program related to their major.  Places of employment include  Dow Chemical, Eurofins, Sanofi Pasteur, and Johnson & Johnson.  Graduate and professional programs (including medical school) include the University of Wisconson-Madison, University of Arizona, Johns Hopkins University, Thomas Jefferson University, and West Virginia University.