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    Application of fundamental chemistry principles to an understanding of chemical reactions and molecular structure in biological systems.

    CHEM 305 Biological Chemistry focuses on how the concepts and techniques from various fields of chemistry may be applied to interpret chemical transformations in biological systems and to determine the structure of biomolecules. The paper will evaluate frontiers in biological chemistry by identifying the underlying fundamental concepts of molecular transformation and structure.

    About this paper

    Paper title Biological Chemistry
    Subject Chemistry
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    CHEM 202 or CHEM 205
    PSCI 302
    Recommended Preparation
    CHEM 202 and CHEM 205
    Schedule C

    CHEM 305 is an important paper for chemistry majors wishing to proceed to a career that involves biological chemistry and also for all general degree students requiring knowledge and understanding of biological chemistry.


    Dr Andrea Vernall

    Tel 64 3 479 4518

    Location: Science II, 5n4

    Teaching staff

    Course Co-ordinator: Dr Andrea Vernall

    Dr Nick Green

    Dr E.W. Tan

    Dr Courtney Ennis

    Paper Structure

    Amino Acids and Peptides

    • The chemistry and reactivity of amino acids and peptides.
    • Methods of isolation, purification and analysis of peptides and proteins.
    • Strategies used in the chemical synthesis of peptides.
    • Structure of nucleic acids and role in biological peptide synthesis.


    • The role and modes of action of enzymes in catalysing biological reactions.
    • Structure activity relationships and kinetics of enzymes.
    • Mechanisms of enzyme reactions using proteases as examples.
    • Strategies for enzyme inhibition in drug design.

    Medicinal chemistry

    Covering topics such as:

    • Drugs and drug targets, biologically active compounds.
    • Drug design and pharmacokinetics, drug physiochemical properties, with a focus on prodrugs.
    • How chemists can rationally design or tune properties of a drug/drug-lead by changing structure.

    Spectroscopy of Biological Systems

    Spectroscopic investigations are integral to the study of biological materials. We will examine the principles and applications of:

    • FTIR, Raman and FRET spectroscopic techniques to interrogate
    • polypeptides and proteins.
    • NMR, EPR and Mossbauer spectroscopy to study specific
    • metalloenzymes.
    Teaching Arrangements
    Three lectures per week and one 4-hour lab class per week.


    Jones, J. Amino acid and peptide synthesis, Oxford University Press

    Bruice, P.Y. Organic Chemistry, (4th edn), Prentice-Hall

    Fersht, A. Enzyme structure and mechanism, Freeman

    EBOOK - William O. Foye; Thomas L. Lemke; David A. Williams, Foye’s principles of medicinal chemistry, (7th ed), Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

    Graham L. Patrick, An introduction to medicinal chemistry, (5th ed), Oxford Press 2013

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Expectations at the completion of the paper:

    • An understanding of the scientific concepts underlying chemical transformation and structure determination involving biological molecules.
    • An appreciation of the chemical factors controlling biological processes.
    • An ability to identify fundamental concepts in chemistry underlying biological systems.
    • Demonstrated expertise in the generic activities of information retrieval, critical analysis and presentation, logistical planning and cooperative teamwork.
    • An understanding of how chemical knowledge is applied in a practical, problem-solving context.


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
    Thursday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
    Friday 09:00-09:50 9-12, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Monday 14:00-17:50 10-13, 15-20
    A2 Tuesday 14:00-17:50 10-13, 15-20
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