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Biochemistry Overview

Biochemistry is the science that examines the function and structure of the molecules important to living organisms. It bridges the disciplines of chemistry and biology, using theories and protocols of each to better understand the world in and around us. Chatham’s biochemistry major is designed for students who are planning graduate work in biochemistry or molecular biology, who wish to seek jobs in biotechnology, or who are applying to medical, dental, or veterinary schools.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
  • BS
Program School

The hours I spend with students in the classroom are few in comparison to the hours I spend in my office discussing long-term academic plans, tricky concepts, or study skills. I believe in each student’s ability to embrace the Chatham mission as their own.

— ROBERT LETTAN, Ph.D., Chair of the Science Department and assistant professor of chemistry

Explore the Biochemistry Degree:

Biochemistry is a science whose boundaries now encompass many aspects of chemistry and biology, from molecules and cells to organisms and ecology. Scientists use the tools of biochemistry and molecular biology to explore cures for disease, improve public health, remediate environmental pollution, and develop cheaper and safer natural products.

  • Students enjoy ready access to outdoor areas for fieldwork, including the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus—the world’s first academic community built for the study of sustainability, with its woodlands, streams, and research labs.
  • Students have the opportunity for hands-on work in our large human cadaver lab.
  • Students can also leverage Pittsburgh’s tight-knit academic and medical community through connections our faculty has around the region.


CHM338:Biochemistry I

This course covers the structure and functions of proteins, polynucleic acids, and biological membranes. Enzymes and kinetics are taught. Metabolic pathways, with emphasis on the thermodynamics of the equilibria and the storage and usage of energy, are covered.

CHM322: Topics in Analytical Chemistry

This course explores the fundamental chemical principles underlying modern chemical instrumentation. Students learn the advantages and limitations of these instruments, how to select the proper instrumental configuration for a specific experiment, and how to evaluate emerging chemical technologies. 

BIO143: The Cell

This course is designed to provide a broad overview of current biological concepts, including cell structure, function, division, and basic genetics. Biologically important molecules also are presented. This course serves as the foundation for all upper-level biology courses.

View Full Curriculum 

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty

The Science Complex

The Science Complex is Chatham’s 10,000 square-foot laboratory building, which features a three-story glass atrium and a modern greenhouse in addition to individual, specialized research spaces; laboratories and classrooms; a range of modern analytical equipment including cell and tissue culture facilities; spectrometers (nuclear magnetic resonance, UV-VIS, IR); and one of the few drift tube mass spectrometers in the country.


Each year, Chatham runs a Summer Undergraduate Research Program. In addition to giving students experience in laboratory research prior to their capstone seminar, Chatham uses funding, such as the Hulme Award and the Theo Colburn and Lorin Maazel Awards, to provide money for biochemistry students to travel to professional conferences and to fund their summer travel and research.

Pre-Med Advising Program

Chatham has a robust pre-med advising program to support and mentor students interested in applying to medical-related graduate programs.

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Chatham + Duquesne Partnership

Chatham has started a program in cooperation with Duquesne University. In five years, a student can obtain a BS in biochemistry from Chatham and an MS in forensics science and law from Duquesne. 


The Chatham biochemistry program is accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS), a sought-after designation that identifies high-quality academic programs across the nation. This means that Chatham students can receive ACS-certified degrees in chemistry and in biochemistry.

Alumna profile:  Sowmya Narayanan ‘10 

Dr. Sowmya Narayanan has been busy. She’s just finished an MD/Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia, and is about to start her general surgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Still, she made time in her schedule to come back to her alma mater to be the keynote speaker at Chatham’s first annual Department of Science Student Research Day. Read more.