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Biochemistry & Biotechnology 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

Biochemistry & Biotechnology


iochemistry explores the chemistry of life. A multidisciplinary science, it draws on chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology and molecular genetics in the study of living organisms and how they work at the molecular level. Biochemical research has led to improvements in the quality of food products and production processes, it has resulted in better environmental monitoring and protection, and it has produced advances in disease diagnosis, surveillance, treatment and prevention.

Biotechnology, the application of biochemistry to industry, is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy. Growth in biochemical science and biotechnology is creating almost unlimited opportunities for university graduates in research institutes

and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Canada, with more than 400 biotechnology firms, is a world leader in this sector — we have the second largest concentration of biotech companies in the world.

About the program

The Honours BSc Biochemistry & Biotechnology program is a four-year honours program offered through Laurier’s Department of Chemistry. The program consists of 20 credits, including 11 chemistry and biochemistry credits. Certain biology, mathematics and physics courses are also required. Specifics can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar at Biochemistry & Biotechnology is a rigorous chemistry-based program with an emphasis on applications of biochemistry to pharmaceutical and health sciences, which constitute more than 50 percent of total activity in biochemical research and biotechnology in Canada. In their first and second years, students are introduced to the core components

of chemistry and biology; they build on that base in their senior years by taking advanced biochemistry courses such as Applied Enzymology, DNA Science and Technology, Biochemistry in Diagnostics and Therapy, and Medicinal Chemistry. Fourth-year biochemistry/biotechnology students may also complete an honours thesis research project working alongside a chemistry faculty member. Many of our senior students also work as paid teaching assistants or are research assistants who work closely with faculty members.

NEW! Biochemistry & Biotechnology (BSc) and Biotechnology Technician Diploma This program combines Laurier’s honours BSc in biochemistry and biotechnology with Conestoga College’s biotechnology technician diploma. This partnership allows students to not only develop knowledge in cellular and molecular biology but also apply the theory in laboratories while fulfilling the special study component at Conestoga College.

“Currently, I am working on the functional characterization of human neuronal uncoupling proteins using a bacterial expression system and different biophysical techniques,” says graduate student, Patrick Hoang.

Biochemistry allows me to integrate the chemistry knowledge into understanding different biological pathways that are essential to humans.

In layman’s terms, this is Hoang’s current research project. His goal for this project is to better understand how these uncoupling proteins transport protons and cause decrease in the destructive activity of highly reactive and damaging molecules in cells.

“I am curious about how these processes are operated at the molecular level. With different molecular biology and biophysical techniques, an answer can be found,” says Hoang. Hoang traces his interest in biochemistry back to a first-year general biology course. Despite the fact that there are no first-year biochemistry courses, the biology course opened up his curiosity for the biochemistry behind biological processes. “Biochemistry allows me to integrate the chemistry knowledge into understanding different biological pathways that are essential to humans.” Recently awarded the prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell – Canada Graduate Scholarship, Hoang is working on his master’s degree in Chemistry with Laurier professor Dr. Jelokhani-Niaraki. After completing his master’s, Hoang will either apply to teacher’s college or pursue doctoral studies.

A great learning experience

Co-op at Laurier

Honours science students in co-op complete two work terms of at least 10 weeks each, usually in the summers following their second and third years. Participants receive training in job search techniques and assistance in finding employment related to their studies or career goals.

Why should you consider co-op? • • • • •

Put theory into action Apply your technical skills Clarify your career goals Develop marketable skills Gain valuable contacts

Recent employers of Biochemistry & Biotechnology co-op students include: • Chemistry Department, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo • Guelph Chemical Laboratories, Guelph • Leo Pharma, Thornhill

The Management Option

Honours science students are also eligible for the Management Option, consisting of ten half-credit courses, six required and four electives. This option will give you fundamental training in key areas of business such as business organization, accounting, marketing, management skills, operations and the fundamentals of finance, macroeconomics and microeconomics, interpersonal communications, business law, personal finance and business management. Students normally apply for the Management Option during second year, having already completed both BU111 and BU121 with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 6.00 (C+). Entry into this option is competitive and students must maintain a grade point average of 7.0 (B-) in all Management Option courses to graduate. For more information, visit

Applied Mathematics Option

The Applied Mathematics Option is available to honours students in any discipline other than mathematics. The primary focus is on methods commonly used in modern mathematical models in science, especially in relation to kinesiology, physics, computer science, chemistry, biology and psychology, although the option can also be tailored to meet the needs of other areas of study, such as business and economics, where quantitative methodology is an important part of the program.

Strong reputation In the 2009 Maclean’s reputational survey, Laurier ranked in the top three in its category nationally for Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative and Overall Reputation.

Dr. Lillian DeBruin began her university studies in a program called Man and the Environment, which focused on policies more than science. But she quickly decided the program wasn’t for her. “I wanted to know what was happening to man and his environment at the molecular level,” she says.

I wanted to know what was happening to man and his environment at the molecular level.

DeBruin began by looking at environmental issues, and then compounds that cause cancer. For her PhD she searched for carcinogens in human breast milk and found several aromatic amines or “compounds that may be involved in the etiology of breast cancer.” DeBruin’s current research involves the myelin membrane, the fatty sheath wrapped around your axons, which are part of your nerve cells. Axons conduct impulses from cells and in some diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin membrane deteriorates. “I’m trying to characterize various microdomains in the myelin membrane to determine what their function is in health and disease,” DeBruin says. “Once we know the functions and what their roles are in various diseases, it becomes possible to develop molecular therapeutic strategies” to enhance myelin repair and to stop myelin damage.

Your future starts here

Biochemistry and your future

Laurier’s Biochemistry & Biotechnology program will provide students with the skills needed to meet the demanding requirements of biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, the academic community and health science research institutes. The program also provides a strong educational background for students interested in continuing their studies at the graduate level in chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, pharmacy and a number of other healthscience-related programs. A Biochemistry & Biotechnology degree can also lead to a challenging career in many other fields: law, focusing on the protection of the intellectual knowledge created by research, journalism, teaching, and sales and marketing.

Support for grads

At Laurier, support for our students doesn’t end when we hand them their degree. Our Career Development Centre continues to offer career decision-making, career management and job search services to all our alumni for a lifetime. Alumni are also encouraged to attend workshops and programs offered through the centre, including the largest career fairs and job fairs of their kind in the country, which Laurier co-sponsors.

Sample courses offered Bioorganic Chemistry Biochemistry I (Bioenergetics and Catabolic Pathways) Biochemistry II (Structure and Interaction of Proteins and Nucleic Acids) Biochemistry III (Membrane Transport, Signal Transduction and Anabolic Pathways) Intermediate and Advanced Biochemistry Laboratories Bioanalytical Chemistry Biotechnology Principles of Microbiology Experimental Techniques in Molecular and Cell Biology Applied Enzymology DNA Science and Technology Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory Molecular Principles of Drug Design Bioinformatics: Genomics and Proteomics Computational Biochemistry and Molecular Modelling Medicinal Chemistry Special Topics in Biochemistry and Biotechnology Biochemistry in Diagnostics and Therapy

Admission information For the most up-to-date information about admission to Laurier, go to

Tel: (519) 884-0710 ext. 3385 | Fax: (519) 747-2106 | Email: |

10 0 Y E A R S I NSPI R I NG L I V E S OF LE A DE R SH I P A N D PU R P O SE While every effort has been made to ensure this publication is accurate at time of printing, the information contained herein is subject to change without notice.


75 University Avenue West | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5


1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University Biotechnology, the application of biochemistry to industry, is...

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