Why Major in Biochemistry?
It's a great preparation for careers and graduate school. Students would be able to select a major which will offer them excellent opportunities for employment or continuing education in graduate or professional schools. This major will also prepare students more adequately for the GRE subject test in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology.
Professional organizations recognize the need for such a major. A large number of schools nationwide have biochemistry degree programs. Two major organizations, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (ASBMB) have published criteria for undergraduate majors in Biochemistry, and the ACS accredits Biochemistry programs at undergraduate institutions. As of July 2000, 94 schools have received such accreditation. ( See Appendix 2.) These numbers reflect the wide-spread acceptance of Biochemistry as an important undergraduate major.
The major reflects the importance of the Biochemistry within Biology and Chemistry: About 40% of all abstracts of papers in Chemical Abstracts were in the various interdisciplinary fields comprising biochemistry, compared to other chemistry disciplines. All areas of biology have been touched by the profound advances in biochemistry and molecular biology. Many of the new jobs created over the last decade have been in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
Studying an integrated subject like Biochemistry would help decompartmentalize scientific disciplines and reflect the type of learning required for students in the 21st century: For students to succeed in science in this new century, their understanding of science must be integrative and expansive, not divided and restrictive. For example, students obtaining Ph.D.'s in biomolecular sciences at the University of Washington, are required to have two advisors in different disciplines, such as biology and computer science. New research institutions are being organized in interdisciplinary teams, not separate departments. A Biochemistry Major leads us in this direction and tell students who are interested in it that they must also expand their vision of learning.
It will help inform discussions of the major bioethical issues arising from the human genome project and genomic medicine. Through coordination with Senior Seminar courses, this major offers students the opportunity to obtain an in-depth understanding of both the scientific and ethical issues associated with the human genome project and the genetic manipulation of organisms.