How Are Chemistry & Biology Intertwined?


Hi, I'm Robin Higgins, and this is "how are chemistry and biology intertwined?" Okay, so these two fields are very intertwined, but I think one of the areas where we see the most overlap is the medical industry. So, let's just take some guy, or a woman, doesn't matter, and let's say that he's sick, he's very sad right now. So, he goes to the doctor, and maybe the first thing they have him do is to have a blood test. So, in the blood, you have different types of cells, which would be studied in biology, and you also have different types of chemicals, like iron, that would be studied in chemistry. And, so maybe, he has a blood test done, and he figures out that his white and blood cell count is, are healthy, and that his iron concentrations are healthy. Well, to do this, you've already used chemistry and biology, and so, let's say the next thing he does is he has his foot examined, and so, let's say on his foot, he had a little cotton swab, and it turns out that he had a little bit of an infection. Well, to test that infection, you'd have to test bacteria, and once again, you'd have to have some kind of chemical that could tell you whether or not there was bacteria. So, maybe they add a stain and every time the swab, it turns pink, you know that there's no bacteria, and every time it turns purple, you know that there is bacteria. And, that chemical is gonna be some type of colored chemical that can turn different colors depending on whether or not something is present or not. So, pregnancy tests work this way, and pH strips work this way. There's lots of biological applications. So, let's say, in the end, he had a little bit of bacteria on his foot 'cause he's dirty, but that was what was wrong with him. Let's say he has had a headache. Okay, so let's say he decides ibuprofen. So, the doctor says "just take a pill." Well, that pain killer is made from a very specific small molecule which chemist's decided, and it goes into your body, and it decreases your pain levels, and that was all determined by biologists who are doing biological studies. So, just really, anything you can think of with medicine is going to combine both biology and chemistry. I'm Robin Higgins, and this is "how are biology and chemistry intertwined?"

Robin Higgins graduated with a B.S in Chemistry from Emory University 2010, and has just recently received her M.S in Chemistry from the University of California Los Angeles.