Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsIn the first week of this FutureLearn course, we have explored how the combination of complementary principles from biology and chemistry allow us to study the molecular basis of life, forming the distinct branch of science we know as biochemistry. You have encountered some of the experts in this field from the University of East Anglia, the Norwich Research Park, and around the world, as well as representatives of the Biochemical Society. Already in this course we have discovered how, in the late 19th century, biochemistry emerged as an important scientific discipline in its own right. Furthermore, since then, biochemists have applied both biological and chemical methods to make revolutionary advances towards biotechnology and to develop solutions to a long list of societal challenges.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsThe importance of many of these discoveries has been recognised by Nobel Prizes in the fields of Chemistry and Physiology or Medicine. Moreover, many scientific disciplines, including molecular biology, genetics, structural biology and proteomics have built upon the work of biochemists, who have also contributed to the development of a diverse range of products and services that you use on a day by day basis. You will now have an appreciation for what a degree in biochemistry entails, as well as the many skills that make biochemists so attractive to potential employers across a wide range of working environments including research, industry, business, teaching, law and many others. Next week, we will delve into more details about our first biochemical topic “Metabolism and Bioenergetics”.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 secondsYou will remember that living things all carry out a great number of biological processes, each of which can be described by a series of chemical reactions. To perform any of these processes, and ultimately sustain life, cells need a readily available form of energy. All biochemical reactions involve changes in energy, and the field of bioenergetics studies the transformation of energy into different forms. One of the most important biological fuels takes the form of the compound adenosine triphosphate, ATP, which is widely known as the universal energy currency of the cell.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 secondsWe will pay particular attention to the metabolic processes that the cell undertakes to generate ATP, since the study of these processes are at the heart of the development of new biotechnology, biofuels and novel treatments for human diseases. Today, leaders around the world are discussing how to address key, current environmental issues, including meeting the growing demand for renewable energy sources; reducing our carbon footprint and tackling the challenge of global warming. Biochemistry plays an essential role in these discussions. How will we provide enough food for the growing global population? How can we better protect our planet for future generations? The answers to these questions are far from straightforward, but they will impact upon countless lives worldwide.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsIt is more than likely that in the next 20-50 years we will see new solutions to these issues arise from pioneering research that biochemists are performing today.

End of week round-up

In this video the course leaders summarise the first week and look ahead to the next seven days of studies within the course.

Next week you will encounter bioenergy, a vitally important area of research in which biochemistry plays a fundamental role.

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This video is from the free online course:

Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

UEA (University of East Anglia)