Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology Department Profile

Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

The maturation of molecular and structural biology over the past half-century, combined with the exploding information and genomics and proteomics from recent genome sequencing projects, has made the molecular life sciences a critical, integrative area of study at the undergraduate level. Whitman College has offered a rigorous course of study in the molecular life sciences since 1991 by offering a combined major in biology and chemistry, with emphasis on biochemistry and molecular biology. With the addition of biophysics to the curriculum in 2002, a new interdisciplinary program was crafted: Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology (BBMB).

The BBMB program offers interdisciplinary courses and a major at this interface of the physical and biological sciences. The curriculum focuses on the understanding of biological processes at the molecular and cellular level and seeks to prepare students to enter the rapidly developing research fields of biotechnology, biomedicine, and structural biology. The BBMB major is anchored in the core disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics. The junior and senior year includes courses in biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology, each with a laboratory component, along with electives in the area of interest for each student. The major concludes with a senior seminar that explores the newest developments in this rapidly changing field and provides a forum for students to present their senior research projects to faculty and students.

Since 2004, over 100 students have graduated with a BBMB major, entering careers in biomedical research, clinical medicine and nursing, biotechnology, pharmaceutics, and public health.