Biochemistry (BIOC)

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Biochemistry (BIOC)



  • McIntyre Medical Building
  • 3655 Promenade Sir-William-Osler, Room 905
  • Montreal QC H3G 1Y6
  • Student Affairs Officer/Adviser, Christine Laberge
  • Telephone: 514-398-2423
  • Email: christine.laberge [at]
  • Website:

About Biochemistry

About Biochemistry

What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the application of chemistry to the study of biological processes at the cellular and molecular level. It emerged as a distinct discipline around the beginning of the 20th century when scientists combined chemistry, physiology, and biology to investigate the chemistry of living systems.

  • The study of life in its chemical processes: Biochemistry is both a life science and a chemical science—it explores the chemistry of living organisms and the molecular basis for the changes occurring in living cells. It uses the methods of chemistry, physics, molecular biology and immunology to study the structure and behaviour of the complex molecules found in biological material and the ways these molecules interact to form cells, tissues, and whole organisms. Biochemistry graduates are interested, for example, in mechanisms of brain function, cellular multiplication and differentiation, communication within and between cells and organs, and the chemical bases of inheritance and disease. The biochemistry student seeks to determine how specific molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, vitamins, and hormones function in such processes. Particular emphasis is placed on regulation of chemical reactions in living cells.
  • An essential science: Biochemistry has become the foundation for understanding all biological processes. It has provided explanations for the causes of many diseases in humans, animals, and plants. It can frequently suggest ways by which such diseases may be treated or cured.
  • A practical science: Because biochemistry seeks to unravel the complex chemical reactions that occur in a wide variety of life forms, it provides the basis for practical advances in medicine, veterinary medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. It underlies and includes such exciting new fields as molecular genetics and bioengineering. The knowledge and methods developed by biochemistry scientists are applied to in all fields of medicine, in agriculture, and in many chemical- and health-related industries. Biochemistry is also unique in providing teaching and research in both protein structure/function and genetic engineering, the two basic components of the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology.
  • A varied science: As the broadest of the basic sciences, biochemistry includes many subspecialties such as neurochemistry, bioorganic chemistry, clinical biochemistry, physical biochemistry, molecular genetics, biochemical pharmacology, and immunochemistry. Recent advances in these areas have created links among technology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry.

The Department of Biochemistry offers three undergraduate programs:

  • Liberal Program

    This is the most flexible of departmental programs offered, providing students with a useful concentration in Biochemistry, while allowing them to pursue a minor in another speciality or to broaden their education in the sciences.

  • Major

    The Major program becomes more specialized in Biochemistry during the final two years. This program requires skills and insight from all areas of chemistry, and from other areas such as biology, physiology, microbiology and immunology, statistics, and pharmacology. For students aiming for a professional career in the biological sciences or in medicine, these programs can lead to postgraduate studies and research careers in hospital, university, or industrial laboratories.

  • Honours

    The Honours program in Biochemistry combines the substantial background given by the Major program with a challenging opportunity to carry out laboratory research projects in the U3 year. These courses provide students with research experience under the supervision of a professor in the Department. Honours students intending to pursue an M.Sc. in Biochemistry may be interested in the B.Sc./M.Sc. track, which offers a streamlined path to a graduate degree.

Our Major and Honours programs provide a sound background for students aiming for a professional career in biochemistry. The less specialized Liberal program allows students to select courses in other fields of interest. The Liberal program provides students with the opportunity to study the core of one science discipline along with a breadth component from another area of science or from many other disciplines; for more information, see Faculty of Science > Undergraduate > Faculty Degree Requirements > Program Requirements > Liberal, Major, and Honours Programs.

During the first year, each program provides introductory lecture and laboratory courses in biochemistry, as well as basic courses in cell and molecular biology and organic and physical chemistry. In the second and third years, the programs offer an expanded focus in biochemistry through lecture courses, a second laboratory course in biochemistry, and opportunities to carry out research projects in faculty members' laboratories through our BIOC 396, BIOC 462 and BIOC 491 courses. Students can also take a variety of complementary courses in other biological, biomedical, and chemical disciplines in their second and third years.

Increasingly complex technology requires training in both chemistry and biology. As well, the combination of chemistry, molecular biology, enzymology, and genetic engineering in our programs provides the essential background and training in biotechnology. With this, our graduates can work in a variety of positions in industry and health. These range from R&D in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, to testing and research in government and hospital laboratories, to management. Many graduates take higher degrees in research and attain academic positions in universities and colleges.

Additional information is available on the Department of Biochemistry website.

Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2017-2018 (last updated Aug. 17, 2017) (disclaimer)

Biochemistry (BIOC) Faculty

Biochemistry (BIOC) Faculty

Albert M. Berghuis
Emeritus Professors
Rhoda Blostein; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.), F.R.S.C. (joint appt. with Medicine)
Philip E. Branton; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(Tor.), F.R.S.C. (Gilman Cheney Professor of Biochemistry) (joint appt. with Oncology)
Peter E. Braun; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Br. Col.), Ph.D.(Calif., Berk.)
Robert E. MacKenzie; B.Sc.(Agr.)(McG.), M.N.S., Ph.D.(Cornell)
Edward A. Meighen; B.Sc.(Alta.), Ph.D.(Calif., Berk.)
Walter E. Mushynski; B.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.)
Joseph Shuster; B.Sc.(McG.), Ph.D.(Calif.), M.D.(Alta.) (joint appt. with Medicine)
Clifford P. Stanners; B.Sc.(McM.), M.A., Ph.D.(Tor.)
Maria Zannis-Hadjopoulos; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.) (joint appt. with Oncology and Medicine)
Nicole Beauchemin; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(Montr.) (joint appt. with Oncology and Medicine)
Albert M. Berghuis; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Rijks Univ. Groningen), Ph.D.(Br. Col.) (Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology) (joint appt. with Microbiology and Immunology)
Imed Gallouzi; Maitrise, D.E.A., Ph.D.(Montpellier) (Canada Research Chair in Cellular Information Systems)
Kalle Gehring; B.A.(Brown), M.Sc.(Mich.), Ph.D.(Calif., Berk.) (Chercheur National du FRSQ)
Vincent Giguère; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Laval) (joint appt. with Oncology and Medicine)
Philippe Gros; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Montr.), Ph.D.(McG.), F.R.S.C. (James McGill Professor)
Roderick McInnes; B.Sc., M.D.(Dal.), Ph.D.(McG.) (Canada Research Chair in Neurogenetics) (joint appt. with Human Genetics)
William Muller; B.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.) (Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology) (joint appt. with Medicine)
Alain Nepveu; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Montr.), Ph.D.(Sher.) (James McGill Professor) (joint appt. with Oncology and Medicine)
Morag Park; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Glasgow), F.R.S.C. (Diane & Sal Guerrera Chair in Cancer Genetics) (Director, Rosalind & Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre) (James McGill Professor) (joint appt. with Oncology and Medicine)
Arnim Pause; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Konstanz), Ph.D.(McG.)
Jerry Pelletier; B.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.) (James McGill Professor) (joint appt. with Oncology)
Gordon C. Shore; B.Sc.(Guelph), Ph.D.(McG.)
John R. Silvius; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Alta.)
Nahum Sonenberg; M.Sc., Ph.D.(Weizmann Inst.), F.R.S.C., F.R.S. (James McGill Professor)
David Y. Thomas; B.Sc.(Brist.), M.Sc., Ph.D.(Univ. Coll., Lond.), F.R.S.C. (Canada Research Chair in Molecular Genetics) (joint appt. with Human Genetics)
Michel L. Tremblay; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Sher.), Ph.D.(McM.), F.R.S.C. (James McGill Professor) (Jeanne & Jean-Louis Levesque Chair in Cancer Research)
Associate Professors
Maxime Bouchard; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Laval) (Canada Research Chair in Kidney Disease)
Josée Dostie; B.Sc.(Sher.), Ph.D.(McG.) (CIHR New Investigators Award; Chercheur Boursier du FRSQ)
Thomas Duchaine; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Montr.) (Chercheur Boursier du FRSQ)
Bhushan Nagar; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Tor.) (Canada Research Chair in the Structural Biology of Signal Transduction)
Martin Schmeing; B.Sc.(McG.), Ph.D.(Yale) (Canada Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines)
Julie St-Pierre; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Laval), Ph.D.(Camb.) (Chercheur Boursier du FRSQ)
Jose Teodoro; B.Sc.(W. Ont.), Ph.D.(McG.) (CIHR New Investigators Award)
Jason C. Young; B.Sc.(Tor.), Ph.D.(McM.) (Canada Research Chair in Molecular Chaperones)
Assistant Professors
Uri David Akavia; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(Tel Aviv)
Sidong Huang; B.A.(Boston), Ph.D.(Calif.) (CIHR New Investigators Award; Canadian Research Chair in Functional Genomics)
Ian Watson; Ph.D.(Tor.) (joint appt. with Rosalind & Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre)
Associate Members
Gary Brouhard (Biology)
Edward A. Fon (Neurology and Neurosurgery)
Jacques Genest (Medicine)
Michael Hallett (Bioinformatics)
Robert Scott Kiss (Medicine)
Gergely Lukacs (Physiology)
Janusz Rak (Pediatrics)
Stéphane Richard (Medicine/Oncology)
Reza Salavati (Parasitology)
Maya Saleh (Medicine)
Erwin Schurr (Ct. for Study of Host Resistance, MGH)
Peter Siegel (Medicine)
Ivan Topisirovic (Medicine/Oncology)
Youla Tsantrizos (Chemistry)
Bernard Turcotte (Medicine)
Josie Ursini-Siegel (Medicine/Oncology)
Simon Wing (Medicine)
Xiang-Jiao Yang (Medicine)
Adjunct Professors
Mirek Cygler (Biochemistry, Sask.)
Jacques Drouin (IRCM)
Anny Fortin (Dafra Pharma)
Matthias Götte (Alta.)
Vassilios Papadopoulos (Medicine)
Enrico Purisima (NRC/BRI)
René Roy (UQAM)
Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2017-2018 (last updated Aug. 17, 2017) (disclaimer)

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Liberal Program - Core Science Component Biochemistry (47 credits)

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Major Biochemistry (64 credits)

Students may transfer into the Major program at any time, provided they have met all course requirements.

For more information, see Major Biochemistry (64 credits).

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Honours Biochemistry (73 credits)

Admission to the Honours program will not be granted until U2. Students who wish to enter the Honours program in U2 should follow the U1 Major program. Those who satisfactorily complete the U1 Major program with a GPA of at least 3.20 and a mark of B- or better in every required course are eligible for admission to the Honours program.

For more information, see Honours Biochemistry (73 credits).

Biochemistry (BIOC) Related Programs

Biochemistry (BIOC) Related Programs

Interdepartmental Honours in Immunology

Interdepartmental Honours in Immunology

For more information, see Immunology. This program is offered by the Departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and Physiology.

Students interested in the program should contact:

  • Dr. C. Piccirillo
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Telephone: 514-934-1934, ext. 76143
  • Email: ciro.piccirillo [at]


  • Dr. Monroe Cohen
  • Physiology
  • Telephone: 514-398-4342
  • Email: monroe.cohen [at]
Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2017-2018 (last updated Aug. 17, 2017) (disclaimer)
Faculty of Science—2017-2018 (last updated Aug. 17, 2017) (disclaimer)