What Is Bioorganic Chemistry?

C. Mitchell

Bioorganic chemistry is a scientific discipline that combines the basic tenets of biochemistry and organic chemistry. Its primary focus is the chemistry of large-scale biological processes, primarily those related to human health and anatomy. Biochemistry delves into how cells interact with each other and focuses on life at the molecular level. Organic chemistry, on the other hand, focuses on the chemical compounds that give rise to cells and secretions in the first place. As a blended field, bioorganics looks at both the chemistry and the biology of cellular-level interactions.

Bioorganic chemistry focuses on the chemistry of biological processes.
Bioorganic chemistry focuses on the chemistry of biological processes.

The study of bioorganic chemistry is both theoretical and practical. On the theory side of things, scientists must understand how different structures will relate to one another, particularly with respect to the laws governing cell synthesis, synapse control, and other elements of cellular-level reactions. The field also encompasses a lot of practical science, requiring researchers and lab technicians to actually execute, observe, and create. Expertise in both disciplines is usually required for success.

Protein and the synthesis of human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are often the meat of any bioorganic chemistry undertaking. Scientists and researchers spend a lot of time understanding both the biology and the chemistry of how these elements are composed, interact, and bind, either to each other or to outside compounds. Many genetic disorders and inherited conditions stem from defects in DNA and RNA synthesis. Bioorganic chemistry looks both at why that happens, as well as how to fix it through noninvasive, cellular means.

Medicine and pharmaceutical research are some of the biggest consumers of bioorganic chemistry expertise. Sometimes this comes in the form of creating certain drugs or medicinal cures for discreet conditions, but it can also come as basic understanding of the roots of certain conditions. Being able to explain the precise science behind an ailment is often a precursor to finding a workable solution or treatment plan.

There are a number of different chemical methods and processes that go into bioorganic chemistry. Most researchers work in labs, comparing and testing samples. Usually, a researcher focuses only on one isolated project at a time, and projects can often take years or more. Problems and questions tend to be complex, and accuracy is often hard to gauge, at least at first. There usually need to be a lot of tests run in order to come up with a baseline for comparisons, and time needs to be set aside for natural setbacks and unexpected reactions and results.

Not all bioorganic chemistry experts are involved in full-time testing and lab research. Some also teach, particularly at the graduate school level. They may also engage private research that advances the field without any direct benefit to medicine or treatment.

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