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After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

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  • Explain what biochemistry is about and appreciate its central role in the life sciences.
  • Understand the relationship of biochemistry to health and disease and to medicine.
  • Appreciate how the Human Genome Project has given rise to, or stimulated interest in numerous disciplines that are already illuminating many aspects of biology and medicine.

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Biochemistry can be defined as the science of the chemical basis of life (Gk bios “life”). The cell is the structural unit of living systems. Thus, biochemistry can also be described as the study of the chemical constituents of living cells and of the reactions and processes they undergo. By this definition, biochemistry encompasses large areas of cell biology, molecular biology, and molecular genetics.

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The Aim of Biochemistry Is to Describe and Explain, in Molecular Terms, All Chemical Processes of Living Cells

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The major objective of biochemistry is the complete understanding, at the molecular level, of all of the chemical processes associated with living cells. To achieve this objective, biochemists have sought to isolate the numerous molecules found in cells, determine their structures, and analyze how they function. Many techniques have been used for these purposes; some of them are summarized in Table 1–1.

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Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1–1 The Principal Methods and Preparations Used in Biochemical Laboratories
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Other objectives of biochemistry include helping to understand the origins of life on Earth and to integrate biochemical knowledge into efforts to maintain health and to understand diseases and treat them effectively.

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A Knowledge of Biochemistry Is Essential to All Life Sciences

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The biochemistry ...

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