Biochemistry Major Intellectual Objectives
The primary objective is to have each Biochemistry Major be a graduate who excels in medical school or graduate school as a consequence of their Penn experience and their curiosity.
Since Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary major each student learns that the processes in the biological cell follow the laws of physics. The geometry and physical properties of molecules, chemistry, lead to the specificity and diversity of biological molecules, organisms and ecosystems. They should understand that each experimental observation or result has limitations dependent on the methods or technology used for collecting data. They are expected to appreciate that mathematics is needed to express the laws of physics and use them for designing and interpreting experimental results.
What is known about the primary molecular processes in biology is expanding rapidly. Our majors are expected to locate the origin and basis of any information new or unknown to them in the peer reviewed scientific literature.
The course requirements include participation for one full academic year, as a senior, in a faculty research group on campus. These seniors meet at least weekly throughout the senior year to share the research experience in oral presentations. The Penn Biochemistry Major is expected to be able to communicate what they know and do not know in concise, organized language and graphics.
Participation in one of 700 faculty research groups throughout the university makes each student familiar with the process of going from college student to faculty in a research university, including academic medicine. Since most graduate students and postdoctoral associates in these groups take jobs outside of the academy, our majors are also exposed to the transition from academic research laboratory to the real world.