Biochemistry aims at describing and understanding molecular structures and chemical processes of organisms. Insights in the methodology and theory of inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as molecular biology, are key to such an understanding.
Structure, biosynthesis and functions of proteins and nucleic acids are important aspects of fundamental biochemistry. Regulation of metabolism, mechanisms of enzymatic catalysis, organization and mode of action of molecular machines for cellular transport and motility, composition and properties of lipid membranes, as well as cellular energy conversion and signaling are exemplary research interests in biochemistry.
Aims of the Studies
The studies of biochemistry are part of a research-oriented bachelor/master program. During the course of the bachelor education, theoretical and methodological basics are being conveyed, which sets the cornerstone for a fundamental scientific qualification in a biochemical field of occupation. The studies are a basis for individual further education, and occupational orientation of the student.
The bachelor studies are the basis for either the consecutive master program of biochemistry, or alternatively, a further qualification in related subjects. Thus, during the bachelor studies, initial basics of chemistry are being taught, as well as mathematics and physics, which all are essential prerequisite for a biochemical understanding. Then, detailed knowledge in both theory and methodology in the various research fields of biochemistry will be conveyed, and complemented by introductions to actual topics of biochemical research. One focus of the program is introducing the students to the practical aspects of biochemical laboratories from early on, and conveying knowledge and competence for independent work in a research team.
Concept of the Studies
The biochemistry bachelor study program is designed as an interdisciplinary study over the course of 6 semesters, and will be concluded by a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) decree. The studies are composed of modules, in which the various disciplines are taught in the form of lectures, seminars, exercises and laboratory practicals, which will then be concluded by exams. Completed modules are ranked in a credit point system. By the end of the program, a total of 180 points have to be reached in order to qualify for the B.Sc decree.
Focus during the first part of the studies is a thorough education in the basic disciplines of chemistry, taught by the institutes of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. The basic modules of chemistry are being completed by students of biochemistry together with students of chemistry. Starting with the 3rd semester, a curriculum of consecutive courses in biochemistry will be taught by the Biochemistry Centre (BZH), the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), and by the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS Heidelberg).
Part of the advanced training will be a research practical for the duration of six weeks, which can be conducted in one of the laboratories in one of the institutes mentioned above, or in affiliated institutions such as the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), the Max-Planck institute for medical research (MPImF), or the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology (EMBL).
The studies will be concluded with an exam during the 6th semester, as well as a bachelor thesis on a biochemical topic in a research laboratory of a principal investigator affiliated with the study program.
The modularization will also support mobility of the students. A possible window for a semester abroad is suggested to take place during the 5th semester, in coordination with the dean of Biochemistry.