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Specializations in Chemistry

Biochemistry Chemistry is the science of the chemical transformations that characterize living systems. Biochemistry deals with the structures, functions and interactions of cellular components such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and other biomolecules—although increasingly processes rather than individual molecules are the main focus. Among the vast number of different biomolecules, many are complex and large molecules (known as biopolymers), which are composed of similar repeating subunits (called monomers). Students with such specialization can easily understand life at its very basis and are able to answer many important questions, such as: How does the food we eat get converted into energy? Why do proteins fold and how do they act as catalysts? How does our immune system protect us, and why does it sometimes fail? How does the immune system develop memory? How is DNA replicated? How do we use recombinant DNA technology to identify and to manipulate genes? How do medicines work inside the body? The new addedspecialization in Biochemistry caters to students having a strong interest inbiology and biological chemistry by incorporating biologically relatedlecture and laboratory courses. Many students in this program plan.

Medicinal Chemistry is the chemistry discipline at the intersection of chemistry, especially synthetic organic chemistry, and pharmacology and various other biological specialties. It is involved with design, chemical synthesis and development for market of pharmaceutical agents or bioactive molecules, so called drugs. In addition, it also evaluates the properties of existing drugs.

In particular, medicinal chemistry in its most common guise—focusing on small organic molecules—encompasses synthetic organic chemistry and aspects of natural products and computational chemistry in close combination with chemical biology, enzymology and structural biology, together aiming at the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents. Practically speaking, it involves chemical aspects of identification, and then systematic, thorough synthetic alteration of new chemical entities to make them suitable for therapeutic use. It includes synthetic and computational aspects of the study of existing drugs and agents in development in relation to their bioactivities (biological activities and properties), i.e., understanding their structure-activity relationship. At the biological interface, medicinal chemistry combines to form a set of highly interdisciplinary sciences, setting its organic, physical, and computational emphases alongside biological areas such as biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, toxicology and veterinary and human medicine with project management, statistics, and pharmaceutical business practices, systematically oversee altering identified chemical agents such that after pharmaceutical formulation, they are safe and efficacious, and therefore suitable for use in treatment of disease. Students with specialization in medicinal chemistry have job opportunity in pharmaceutical companies.

Petrochemical and Processing Chemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the transformation of crude oil (petroleum) and natural gas into useful products or raw materials. These petrochemicals have become an essential part of the chemical industry today, and can readily be applied to fundamental human needs, such as health, hygiene, housing and food. It is a fascinating science and an inventive business sector, constantly adapting to new environments and meeting new challenges.

In petrochemical and processing procedure, crude oil and natural gas are extracted from the ground, on land or under the oceans, with oil wells; then ships, trains, and pipelines transport extracted oils and gasses to refineries; and then are processed in the refineries that cause various physical and chemical changes in the crude oil and natural gas. Refining is the processing of one complex mixture of hydrocarbons into a number of other complex mixtures of hydrocarbons. The raw materials used in the petrochemical industry are known as feed stocks. These feed stocks then undergo processing through an operation called cracking. Cracking is defined as the process of breaking down heavy oil molecules into lighter, more valuable fractions. Once these operations complete, new products are obtained that serve as building blocks of the petrochemical industry: olefins, i.e., mainly ethylene, propylene, and the so-called C4 derivatives, including butadiene—and aromatics, so called because of their distinctive perfumed smell, i.e., mainly benzene, toluene and the xylenes. Then petrochemicals go through various processes that eventually contribute to the final output of products like plastics, soaps and detergents, healthcare products like aspirin, synthetic fibers for clothes and furniture, rubbers, paints, insulating materials etc.

Students with specialization in petrochemical and processing chemistry will learn the subjects involving the systematic design, development and operation of the processing for the extraction, transformation and recovery of economically useful materials. Therefore, they will feel easy to fit the job market in Houston, the petroleum capital of the world.

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Last updated: 08/01/2016 UTC
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