UMBC logo
Undergraduate Catalog 2011

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


View Faculty Details

Biological Sciences

Charles J. Bieberich
Rachel Brewster
Mauricio M. Bustos
Nessly C. Craig
David M. Eisenmann
Phillip J. Farabaugh
Lasse Lindahl
Hua Lu
Tamra Mendelson
Stephen M. Miller
Kevin Omland
Phyllis R. Robinson
Suzanne O. Rosenberg
Michelle Starz-Gaiano
Richard E. Wolf, Jr.
Janice Zengel

Chemistry and Biochemistry

C. Allen Bush
James C. Fishbein
Elsa D. Garcin
Richard L. Karpel
Lisa A. Kelly
William R. LaCourse
H. Mark Perks
Katherine L. Seley-Radtke
Paul J. Smith
Michael F. Summers
Ian F. Thorpe
Alllison Tracy

Courses in this program are listed under BIOL and CHEM.

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program (under the auspices of the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry) offers students an interdisciplinary curriculum taught by a diverse range of faculty members. With a curriculum drawing from both disciplines, as well as specific biochemistry courses, the program provides a broad background in the physical and life sciences. It is suitable for students planning careers in laboratory research or further training in graduate, medical or other biomedical professional programs, such as medicine, dentistry and medical technology. Research centers for electron and light microscopy, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and faculty laboratories specializing in varied topics including gene regulation, neurobiology, laser spectroscopy and plant molecular biology, provide students with opportunities to work in actual research programs while being mentored by experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated faculty.

Career and Academic Paths

Many UMBC Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduates continue their education in graduate and professional programs including at such highly competitive schools as Harvard University; University of Virginia; Duke University; Washington University; Stanford University; University of California, San Francisco; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Johns Hopkins University; Princeton University; California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University. Program graduates also compete well in the workforce, finding employment with such organizations as the National Cancer Institute, Hoffmann LaRoche, Proctor & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline and the Food and Drug Administration.

Back to Top

Academic Advising

First-year students (both freshman and transfer students) who express an interest in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology initially are advised by the program’s first-year advisor. After one year, they are assigned to one of the participating faculty for advising. Students are required to see their advisors at least once each semester. Academic progress is monitored through graduation.
Back to Top

Major Program

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)The B.S. program consists of 78-81 credits as detailed in the following

list. Note that CHEM 437, 438, 437L and the two electives must be
completed at UMBC. Taking any other courses required for the major
while enrolled at UMBC must be approved by the program.

A. Chemistry (26-27 credits)

  • CHEM 101
    Principles of Chemistry I
  • CHEM 102
    Principles of Chemistry II
  • CHEM 102L
    Introductory Chemistry Laboratory
  • CHEM 300
    Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 301
    Physical Chemistry I
  • OR
    CHEM 303
    Physical Chemistry for the Biochemical Sciences
  • CHEM 351
    Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 352
    Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 351L
    Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 352L
    Organic Chemistry Laboratory II

B. Biology (18 credits)

  • BIOL 141
    Foundations of Biology: Cells, Energy and Organisms
  • BIOL 142
    Foundations of Biology: Ecology and Evolution
  • BIOL 302Molecular and General Genetics
  • BIOL 303
    Cell Biology
  • BIOL 302L
    Molecular and General Genetics Laboratory
  • BIOL 300L
    Experimental Biology Laborator

C. Biochemistry (12 credits)

  • CHEM 437
    Comprehensive Biochemistry I
  • CHEM 437L
    Biochemistry Laboratory
  • CHEM 438
    Comprehensive Biochemistry II

D. Any two of the following electives (6-8 credits)

  • BIOL 411
    Bacterial Physiology
  • BIOL 414
    Eukaryotic Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 418
    Human Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 420
    Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
  • BIOL 425
  • BIOL 426
    Approaches to Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 428
    Computer Applications in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 434
    Microbial Molecular Genetics
  • BIOL 443
    Advanced Topics in Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 444
    Development and Cancer
  • BIOL 445 Signal Transduction
  • BIOL 451
  • BIOL 454
    Vision Science
  • BIOL 456
    Plant Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 476
    Antibiotics: Origin, Mechanism, Resistance
  • BIOL 483
    Evolution: From Genes to Genomes
  • BIOL 486
    Genome Science
  • CHEM 406
    Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 431
    Chemistry of Proteins
  • CHEM 432
    Advanced Biochemistry
  • CHEM 433
    Biochemistry of Nucleic Acids
  • CHEM 435
    Biochemistry of Complex Carbohydrates
  • CHEM 441
    Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules
  • CHEM 442
    Physical Biochemistry
  • CHEM 443
    Molecular Spectroscopy of Biomacromolecules
  • CHEM 444
    Molecular Modeling in Biochemistry
  • CHEM 450
    Chemistry of Heterocyclic Compounds
  • CHEM 451
    Mechanisms of Organic Reactions
  • CHEM 453
    Organic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids
  • CHEM 455
    Biomedicinal Chemistry
  • CHEM 457
    Total Synthesis of Natural Products
  • CHEM 461
    Advanced Instrumental Methods of Analysis
  • CHEM 465
    Mass Spectrometry at the Chemistry-Biology Interface
  • CHEM 470
    Toxicological Chemistry
  • CHEM 472
    Enzyme Reaction Mechanisms
  • CHEM 635
    Biochemistry of Complex Carbohydrates
  • CHEM 640
    Special Topics in Molecular Structure
  • CHEM 680
    Seminar in Biophysical Chemistry
  • CHEM 682
    Current Topics in Biochemistry

E. Mathematics and Physics (16 credits)

  • PHYS 121
    Introductory Physics I
  • PHYS 122
    Introductory Physics II
  • MATH 151
    Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
  • MATH 152*
    Calculus and Analytic Geometry II

The curriculum for the Biological Sciences undergraduate major is in the process of changing. This new curriculum will phase out certain BIOL courses, necessitating changes to the requirements of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. For the latest information on requirements, please consult the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
program web site (href=""> [

F. Individual Laboratory Research

1-4 credits (recommended)

Students have the opportunity to integrate what they have learned by doing independent research with participating faculty. Those working with a biological sciences faculty member may register for BIOL 399 or
499. Those working in a chemistry and biochemistry faculty laboratory may register for CHEM 399 or 499.

* MATH 251 and CHEM 302 are recommended for those anticipating
graduate study in chemistry, biophysical chemistry or biophysics.

G. Electives

The following courses, which have variable topics, may be approved as Biochemistry and Molecular Biology electives in those years when their topic is appropriate (subject to confirmation in each case by the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Committee):

  • CHEM 490A
    Special Topics in Chemistry
  • CHEM 601
    Current Topics in Chemistry
  • CHEM 670
    Special Topics in Dynamics and Mechanisms
  • CHEM 684
    Special Topics in Chemistry

In fulfilling major requirements, CHEM 437, 438 and 437L must be completed at UMBC, with a grade of “C” or better. An overall “C” average must be maintained in required courses. Prerequisites for all courses in the major must be satisfied with a grade of “C” or better.

Back to Top

Writing Intensive Requirement

Under the General Education Program, students are required to complete one Writing Intensive (WI) course. The requirement is met by completion of CHEM 437L Biochemistry Laboratory, which has been approved as a WI course.

Back to Top

Honors Program

While the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program does not have an honors program, specific honors sections are offered for BIOL 141H and BIOL 142H Foundations of Biology and CHEM 101H and CHEM 102H: Introductory Chemistry. In addition, selected upper-level courses are offered as honors program courses. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors are eligible for departmental honors in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Information on the requirements for departmental honors are available in the sections of this catalog devoted to each department.

Back to Top

Combined B.S/M.S.

Students interested in the Applied Molecular Biology (APMB) Program will be considered for admission to the program on a competitive basis. Students can use up to two courses from their undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and, in so doing, save money and reduce their graduate course work.

Students should consult with the director of the Applied Molecular Biology Program for advisement as to which courses will be appropriate for both degrees. Application for admission should be submitted prior to the final semester of the senior year. For more information, see the APMB Web site

Back to Top

Special Opportunities

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors have the opportunity to participate in research in both participating departments at UMBC, as well as at nearby institutions such as the National Institutes of Health. Special programs and fellowships have placed Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students in labs of eminent scientists nationally and internationally. Many advanced Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors are tutors in the Chemistry or Biology Tutorial Centers, helping to provide free tutoring for fellow students enrolled in freshman and sophomore courses.

Back to Top

Student Organizations

Chemistry/Biochemistry and Biology Councils of Majors Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Majors play an active role in the Chemistry/Biochemistry Council of Majors (CHEM/COM), an American Chemical Society student affiliate chapter, and in the Biology Council of Majors (BioCOM). Both councils support active professional and social programs. Links to information on CHEM/COM and BioCOM activities are provided in the undergraduate information sections of the respective departmental web sites. Majors are also active in various on campus pre-professional societies (pre-medical, pre-dental, etc.).

Back to Top