Exploring Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with UC Davis

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Davis

A strong background in biology, chemistry and math is required for the biochemistry and molecular biology major. Students who enjoy science and are comfortable with quantitative approaches will find this major rewarding.

As a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, you will have access to cutting-edge research laboratories in medical science, cancer biology, cell biology and biotechnology. Many graduates go on to health professional schools such as medical, dental, pharmacy and veterinary school.

Career Opportunities

UC Davis has an international reputation for research, innovation and sustainability. Our students use the skills they have gained here to improve human health, food production and energy supplies.

You can explore your interest in biology and learn how it relates to other disciplines by taking courses offered by our many departments. The lower-division curriculum includes labs, and specialty labs are available to provide you with additional hands-on experience.

Whether you are interested in animal behavior, plant growth and development or molecular biology and biochemistry, our broad program will give you the knowledge to pursue your research goals. As a Biological Sciences major, you can choose to earn either a B.S. or an A.B. degree, which gives you flexibility in selecting upper division coursework outside of the department. In addition to research, many Biological Sciences students take advantage of internships and other work experiences in Washington. Internship credits may be applied toward your major or minor.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Students who choose this major are highly prepared for medical school, graduate school, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. They are also well-positioned to pursue careers in the rapidly expanding fields of genome analysis and bioinformatics.

Molecular biology encompasses the study of chemical and physical aspects of life processes, from the structure and function of atoms to cell structures, gene expression, molecular genetics, protein folding and enzyme catalysis. Molecular biology also investigates how these processes are coordinated to produce life, and it seeks to understand disease states and the development of new drugs and therapies.

The curriculum for the major in biochemistry and molecular biology provides extensive laboratory experience. Students learn to use modern techniques and equipment, including high-throughput sequencing technologies. In addition, they gain experience with computational analysis through coursework and research experiences. Faculty advisors work with students to identify elective courses, undergraduate research opportunities and professional internships that will best support their individual interests.

Preparation for Medical School

The department’s research programs cover a range of fundamental molecular topics including cell biology, gene expression, membrane biology, human genetics and chemical biology. Faculty members participate in undergraduate, graduate and medical teaching activities.

The major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology prepares students for medical school through a rigorous curriculum that includes significant hands-on experimental work. Students who choose the Pre-Medicine option are given the opportunity to work alongside a faculty mentor on cutting-edge laboratory research projects in medical science, oncology, genetics and drug development.

Students graduating with a BMB degree typically go on to earn a Ph.D. in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Many other graduates pursue careers in research laboratories or industry. Some attend health professional schools such as medical, dental, veterinary or pharmacy school. Others pursue careers in education or science communication.

Research Experiences

Whether you’re curious about how physical forces lead to cancerous cells or tracking the gene-by-gene journey of your family tree, a research experience in a CBS lab can help present classroom concepts in a more meaningful light. Many undergraduate students find their passion for science through discovery.

Like any scientist, most undergraduates get their first taste of research with minimal prior experience. That’s okay, because our faculty understand that every researcher starts somewhere.

For example, chemistry major Wenzhe Li rotated through two labs before finding her muse studying centrosomes, cellular structures involved in many types of movements within cells. Her work could have broad implications for human health.

You can also explore other opportunities to engage with the field through our student organizations, such as the undergrad Davis chapter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or the Plant Biology Club. Or, start your own student group on campus—the Center for Student Involvement can help you do just that!

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