Biochemistry

Biochemistry draws on all sciences to explore the living world and causes of disease at the molecular level.

Our program is one of only a few that is accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.

As a biochemistry student, you'll be encouraged to test your ideas through research from your very first courses and often using advanced equipment that other schools reserve exclusively for graduate students. In addition, all biochemistry faculty have active research programs. As a student, you'll gain valuable experience investigating real-world problems while working one-on-one with faculty.

Students majoring in this field often go on to pursue a professional degree in one of the medical fields. Others continue with graduate study in biology, chemistry or biochemistry, or enter the workforce.

We offer a major in Biochemistry.

Students working in a lab

Students experience biochemistry firsthand through research with faculty

  • Mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing organisms
  • Estrogen and androgen signaling pathways
  • The effects of hormones on gene expression 
  • Molecular mechanisms controlling cell shape
  • The origins and evolution of meiosis
  • Enzymes important in metabolism and chemotherapy
  • The purine biosynthetic pathway in archaea

Lydiah Mpyisi

Photo of Lydiah Mpyisi conducting an experimentLydiah Mpyisi ’16 has a knack for lab research. While at Roanoke, she studied four Tuberculosis proteins to identify targets for antibiotics. “I got interested because tuberculosis is a big problem in Africa and Kenya, where I come from,” said Mpyisi, who was born in Kenya, and is majoring in Biology and Environmental Science and minoring in Chemistry. Her research helped Mpyisi land an internship last summer at Salem-based Novozymes, a global biotech company. Mpyisi hopes to continue her research and lab work in medical school or a biochemistry job.

At Roanoke, first semester freshmen use instruments that are available only to seniors or graduate students at many other schools. Alumni tell us that their experiences with instrumentation here distinguish them from the norm when they enter graduate school or the workforce.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • CHEM 340: Pharmaceutical Chemistry
    Students working on an experiment
  • BIOL 315: Genetics
  • CHEM 341: Biochemistry I  

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Our students go on to highly regarded grad schools

Logos of graduate schools attended by Roanoke alumni: Boston University, University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Tech, University of Pittsburgh, Notre Dame

Searching for a gene to prevent chemotherapy relapse

Using a new, revolutionary technique in hopes of discovering a new gene has Matthew Johnson '19 excited for the future. "We are using a new, revolutionary technique called CRISPR/Cas9 in hopes of discovering a new gene," he said.  

During a research internship at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, his research focused on Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Johnson is particularly interested in cancer cells that are resistant to chemotherapy in order to prevent cancer relapse. He is working now in Dr. Cathy Sarisky's lab. "I've gained so much experience through this research and it's helped me apply to medical school this year," Johnson said.