Biochemistry

MOLECULAR. CHEMICAL. PHYSICAL.

Welcome to Biochemistry

Biochemistry is the study of all living systems at the molecular level. It looks at the chemical and physical basis of life and how these living systems interact with their environments.

The Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Biological Sciences jointly offer a multi-disciplinary major in biochemistry for the 40-course Bachelor of Science (BSc). You can also select a general major in the sciences and choose biochemistry courses as options.

Biochemistry will help you develop a strong background in the basic sciences and extensive laboratory skills. Thereby, it provides background for a diverse range of careers in the life sciences, including professional programs such as medicine and veterinary medicine. 

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is home to many advanced instruments which enable cutting-edge research. These tools include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), infra-red, Raman, UVvisible, atomic absorption spectrometers, macromolecular x-ray diffractometer, isothermal titration calorimeter, and a surface plasmon resonance spectrometer.

Program Highlights

U of L scientists unveil a novel molecular mechanism underlying Alzheimer’s disease

University of Lethbridge genome scientists examining molecular changes in the brain of mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease have shed light on the mechanisms involved in this complex process — one of the first stages in understanding better the molecular basis of this debilitating disease. These preliminary findings can guide the way for future studies to look for new therapeutic targets.

This significant study, led by Dr. Athan Zovoilis, a Canada Research Chair in RNA Bioinformatics and Genomics, was recently published in eLife, a prestigious biomedical and life sciences journal. The study is the result of work within the recently established Southern Alberta Genome Sciences Center (SAGSC) at the U of L, as well as part of the continuing contributions of the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) to the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

Canada Foundation for Innovation funding will help U of L researchers pursue a drug treatment for COVID-19

Two U of L researchers have received a $200,000 grant from the Exceptional Opportunities Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for infrastructure to aid them in their search to find a drug to treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus that’s responsible for the COVID pandemic.

The funding is part of nearly $28 million in research infrastructure support announced by Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Baines. The funding will support 79 projects across the country and covers the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19.

The CFI funding bolsters two grants received earlier this year by Drs. Trushar Patel and Borries Demeler (Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry). In July, they received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grant of $150,000. A short time later they received a MITACS Accelerate grant, in partnership with Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API), for $210,000 to develop a drug treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

ARRTI researcher earns $642,600 CIHR grant to investigate complex process of ribosome formation

Long-term goal is to inhibit interactions between small RNAs and ribosomal RNAs thereby depriving cancer cells of protein factories.

Understanding one of the fundamental building blocks of life may also hold the key to unlocking new targets for the treatment of cancer. The University of Lethbridge’s Dr. Ute Kothe and her team will look to unravel the complex process of forming ribosomes, the body’s protein factories, through RNA research in a new five-year project that has received $642,600 in funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

Identifying Critical RNA-RNA Interactions during Ribosome Biogenesis is the title of the project that will be based at the U of L and within the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI), but also include collaborators at the Universities of Sherbrooke and McGill University in Quebec, as well as three German institutions.

UofL forges partnership with the South Alberta Light Horse Primary Reserve unit

Over the Sept. 18-20th weekend, UofL faculty members and students took part in observing a military training exercise conducted by the South Alberta Light Horse (SALH), a Primary Reserve unit within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Part of 41 Canadian Brigade Group, 3rd Canadian Division, the SALH is an armoured reconnaissance regiment operating squadrons throughout Alberta, and particularly in the City of Lethbridge. The Regiment is uniquely tasked with the detection, identification, and management of biochemical and nuclear weapon threats, a role the SALH plays principally in conjunction with regular force elements. The objective of the training, which occurred at Kipp Rifle Range, was to qualify soldiers on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense to prepare them for future deployments both domestically and abroad. Attendance of UofL guests was critical in helping to bridge a relationship between the CAF, students, and the UofL community to help broaden applications and research into defense science including connecting resources for reservists and future career opportunities for students. In attendance were biochemistry researchers and professors within the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI) with graduate students and post-doctoral fellows receiving training at the UofL.

Chemistry & biochemistry researcher, Dr. Ute Kothe, named a U of L Board of Governors Teaching Chair

With an approach based in the belief that an effective teacher facilitates understanding and the well-being, learning and development of students, Dr. Ute Kothe has been named a University of Lethbridge Board of Governors Teaching Chair.

An educator who teaches at all levels, from first-year undergraduate through post-doctoral supervision, Kothe eyes every opportunity to enable learning, pioneering community science outreach activities that spur the imagination and passion for new knowledge amongst the young and old alike.

Dr. Trushar Patel

From Dengue fever to Zika, viruses are prevalent around the world and virus pandemics frequently make headlines. University of Lethbridge, Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute, Chemistry and Biochemistry researcher Dr. Trushar Patel and his team are shining new light on viruses and how they survive in an effort to ultimately develop approaches that could apply to families of viruses to inhibit their replication.

Patel is a Canada Research Chair in RNA and Protein Biophysics. His lab is inspiring and training the next generation of researchers, including Tyler Mrozowich (BSc ’18), a master’s candidate who first worked in Patel’s lab as an undergraduate student in 2017.

“We have an ongoing commitment to teach the next generation of trainees, starting from the first-year undergraduate all the way to the PhD program,” says Patel. “If you are motivated, we help you create and harness your research skills, which helps us push the research forward and helps you get your career moving forward.”

 

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Whether you’re looking for a more in-depth learning experience by assisting with research projects on campus or by testing your knowledge in a real-life work setting, we can help! The programs available in the Career Bridge office will provide you with a solid foundation for further studies and an excellent framework for a challenging and rewarding career — whatever direction you decide to go. Explore career options, participate in research and develop skills that complement your degree.

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