Fall 2016 - CHEM 180 D100

The Chemistry of Life (3)

Class Number: 4030

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    AQ 5018, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2016
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CHEM 121.



A basic introduction to chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and equilibria as they apply to the structure and function of biomolecules. Concepts will be illustrated using modern examples of biological systems. Students will be introduced to central ideas and selected molecular engineering methods in biochemistry and molecular biology.


3 lecture hours/week; 1 tutorial hour/week


1. Organic Molecules (≈ 3 Lectures)
      Drawing organic molecules
      Geometry of bonds and bond lengths
      Hydrogen Bonds
      Electrostatic interactions
      Hydrophobic interactions

2. Thermodynamics (≈ 4 Lectures)
      Three laws, definitions
      Gibbs free energy, spontaneity
3. Chemical Equilibria and Acids/Bases (≈ 5 Lectures)
      Le Chatelier's principle
      Kw, Keq, pH, pKa
      Henderson-Hasselbach Equation
      Titration curves
      Ionization of amino acid residues

4. Chemical Kinetics (≈ 5 Lectures)
      Reaction coordinate diagrams
      Basic rate equations
      Reaction order
      Catalysts (enzymes)

5. Intoduction to Biomolecules (≈ 5 Lectures)
      Functional localization of Biomolecules

6. Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (≈ 4 Lectures)
      Structure of cells
      Flow of information in central dogma
      Location and significance of molecules
      Enzymes involved

7. Nervous System (≈ 9 Lectures) (Integrated Topics)
      Electrochemistry overview
      Oxidation and reduction
      Potential difference / membrane potential
      Nernst equation
      Neuron cell structure
      Synaptic structure
      Saltatory transmission
      Action potentials
      Ion channels
      Chemical Neurotransmitters (Acetylcholine)
         Enzyme mechanism
         Enzyme kinetics
         Diffusion limit
         Enzyme inhibition
         Conformational changes
         Proteins as machines that perform work


  1. To give engineering students who have taken CHEM 121-4 General Chemistry and Laboratory I sufficient background to enter KIN 208-3 Introduction to Physiological Systems.
  2. To give science or engineering students who have CHEM 121, but no background in biology, a basic understanding of central concepts of bioorganic chemistry and biochemistry.


  • Problem Sets 25%
  • Midterm Exam 30%
  • Final Exam 45%


Notes are provided in class.
Lecture allocated to each topic are an estimate and may vary slightly.





John Kuriyan, Boyana Konforti & David Wemmer. The Molecules of Life. 2012. Publisher: Garland Science.

Charlotte Pratt & Kathleen Cornely. Essential Biochemistry. 2004. Publisher: Wiley.

Extended Readings

Donald Voet & Judith G. Voet. Biochemistry. 1990. Publisher: Wiley.
Bruce Alberts et al. The Molecular Biology of the Cell. 1983. Publisher: Garland Science.
Harvey Lodish et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 2000. Publisher: W. H. Freeman.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

A grade of C- or better is required for all prerequisite courses.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html