Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

The B.A. and B.S. degrees offered by the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B) are for students interested not just in what life is, but also in how it works. MB&B students seek to understand life at a mechanistic level by studying how the complex molecules found in living organisms create structures, carry out chemistry, and store and utilize information to generate the remarkable properties of living organisms. Biochemistry is the discipline that identifies and studies the molecules and chemical reactions in biological organisms. Molecular biophysics uses the methods of physics to study how these molecules work by determining their three-dimensional structures and mechanisms of action. For example, biochemistry was used to discover DNA and the fact that it carries genetic information, while biophysics was used to discover its double-helix structure. The MB&B major is well suited to students planning to attend medical school or to pursue graduate studies and a career in biomedical research.

Freshmen interested in the MB&B major should start their scientific studies at Yale by taking course work in chemistry and biology. Students should enroll in the most advanced chemistry courses for which they are eligible, along with the four half-term, half-credit introductory biology courses prerequisite to all majors in the biological sciences. Refer to Special Programs, Placement, and Preregistration for information about the Chemistry placement process.

The following program is recommended for the first year:

Select one of the following sequences:

Option 1:

  • CHEM 161, General Chemistry I, and CHEM 134L, General Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 165, General Chemistry II, and CHEM 136L, General Chemistry Laboratory II

Option 2:

  • CHEM 163, Comprehensive University Chemistry I, and CHEM 134L, General Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 167, Comprehensive University Chemistry II, and CHEM 136L, General Chemistry Laboratory II

And the following courses:

  • BIOL 101, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • BIOL 102, Principles of Cell Biology and Membrane Physiology
  • BIOL 103, Genes and Development
  • BIOL 104, Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Four nonscience courses

The single most important thing freshmen can do to prepare for the MB&B major is to take the most advanced chemistry course for which they qualify. If eligible, freshmen are urged to begin study either with the second term of Comprehensive University Chemistry or with a course in organic chemistry, with the associated laboratories. Beginning organic chemistry as a freshman allows a student to start course work in biochemistry in the sophomore year, and also allows a wider choice of advanced science electives in the junior and senior years.

Freshmen are urged to meet with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) at the Academic Fair during Freshman Orientation. For more information, visit the departmental Web site.