Fall 2022 - CHEM 180 D100

The Chemistry of Life (3)

Class Number: 2763

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    BLU 10901, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 19, 2022
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    AQ 5035, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CHEM 121 with a minimum grade of C-.



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. Students with credit for CHEM 122 or CHEM 124 may not take this course for further credit.


Please note, this course outline was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change.

Mode of Teaching:

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
  • Entropy
  • Enthalpy
  • 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)
  • Compartmentalization
  • 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)
  • Acetylcholinesterase
    • Localization
    • Enzyme mechanism
    • Enzyme kinetics
    • Diffusion limit
    • Enzyme inhibition
  • Kinesin
    • Microtubules
    • 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%
  • First Exam 30%
  • Second Exam 45%


Course Notes:

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



Required Materials:

  • Calculator
Technology Requirements:
  • Students are required to have a desktop or laptop computer, high-speed internet access, and a webcam and microphone (built-in or external) to participate in online course components.


Charlotte Pratt and Kathleen Cornely, Essential Biochemistry, Wiley, 2004.

(Extended Reading) D. Voet and J.G. Voet, Biochemistry, Wiley, New York, 1990.

(Extended Reading) B. Alberts et al., The Molecular Biology of the Cell, Garland Pub., New York, 1983.

(Extended Reading) H. Lodish et al., Molecular Cell Biology, Scientific American Books, 2000.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

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

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/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