What is Chemical Biology?
Chemical Biology can be defined as the design or identification and the exploitation of novel small molecules as tools to investigate questions in biology.
Tools used in this emerging field include:
- conventional and combinatorial chemical syntheses,
- structure-determination and modeling methods to examine the interactions of small molecules with biological targets,
- proteomic and genomic analyses (including bioinformatic approaches), and
- use of novel small-molecule ligands, sometimes together with specifically engineered protein and nucleic-acid targets, to allow chemical modulation of specific biological processes in intact cells and organisms.
For some reviews of the exciting recent accomplishments and the potential of this field, see Current Opinion in Chemical Biology vol. 11(2007), 83-87; Trends in Biochemical Sciences vol. 30 (2005), 26-34; Current Opinion in Cell Biology vol. 8 (2004), 424-431; Science vol. 300 (2003), 294-295; Nature Chemical Biology vol. 1 (2005), 13-21; Nature Reviews: Genetics vol. 1 (2000), 116-125; and Trends in Biochemical Sciences vol. 24 (1999), 317-320.
The Chemical Biology Program at McGill
The Chemical Biology Graduate Option is centered on the pursuit of an original research project under the direction of one or more Mentors. Students may currently register for the Option through any of the Departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry, Pharmacology and Therapeutics or Physiology. At present roughly 40 graduate students and a smaller number of postdoctoral fellows are enrolled in the program. The program is supported by McGill University and by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through its Strategic Training Initiatives program.
The program of training incorporates several important features, including a diverse curriculum and programs of seminars, workshops and discussion groups designed to provide students with a well-rounded exposure to both the chemical and biological aspects of the discipline.
Financial support for students in the program is available from a variety of sources, included competitively awarded CIHR-funded Chemical Biology Scholarship awards (follow the link for further information).