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Biochemistry and Chemical Biology


The study of chemical processes within living systems is an interdisciplinary enterprise that spans the fields of chemistry, molecular and cellular biology, biophysics, and engineering. Chemical biology and biochemistry use chemical insight, techniques, and tools to study or manipulate biological systems. They are the cornerstones of medical technology and therapeutics. To provide students with training in modern principles at a chemistry-biology interface, Vanderbilt’s interdisciplinary major in Biochemistry & Chemical Biology (BCB) incorporates expertise from multiple departments in the University. 

There are two tracks in the BCB major: a Biochemistry Track and a Chemical Biology Track.  Both tracks share a set of four common core courses.  Within each track there is a set of core courses along with choices for elective courses. For more information about the specific tracks, visit the page with the major requirements:

Recently Offered Courses

Core courses in the BCB major are offered every year.  These include classes in organic chemistry, biochemistry (I & II), chemical biology (I & II), analytical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, cell biology, biological sciences, genetics, drug design and development. There are more than 40 elective courses in engineering, computer science, chemistry, biological sciences and neuroscience associated with the major which are offered on a regular rotating basis.

Honors Program

Students with strong interest in basic research, including those who wish to pursue graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. or the combined M.D./Ph.D. degrees at prestigious institutions, may enter the Honors program. The Honors program provides a strong independent research experience as well as critical thinking and scientific writing skills. Students with a 3.4 GPA in courses that count toward the major qualify. A minimum of six hours must be completed in Independent Research (BCB 3201) and a written Honors Thesis must be defended through oral presentation. 60 percent of the class of 2019 is pursuing Honors. Current Honors Projects titles are listed below:

  • Elucidating the Role of CNTF in Breast Cancer
  • Synthesis of Dichloroisoeverninic Acid Derivatives Towards Understanding Everninomycin Binding Affinity
  • Synthesis and Testing of Ilicicolin Compounds
  • Exploration of p73 in Cell-Cell Adhesion and Migrating Cell Networks
  • Isolation and Purification of Human Milk Oligosaccharides
  • Defining Novel Mechanism of Nucleic Acid Sensing in Innate Immunity

Undergraduate Research

Significant independent research is encouraged for all students, not just Honors students. BCB majors are currently conducting research in 12 departments across the College of A&S, College of Engineering and the School of Medicine. All Biochemistry Track students are required to participate in a minimum of one semester of independent research with a faculty mentor of their choosing. Chemical Biology Track students are required to complete at least one semester of research, either via an independent project or the Advanced Integrated Lab. The majority of BCB majors conduct research for at least two semesters.

This summer BCB majors secured research positions at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Dana Farber Cancer Center, and at Vanderbilt University and other highly ranked universities. 

After Vanderbilt

Students leaving the BCB program are well positioned for entry into professional graduate study and careers in biomedical research, academia, and industry. The BCB major provides an excellent background for careers in medicine and other health-related professions, and includes the required STEM courses in the pre-medical curriculum. The BCB major is now entering its third year of existence. Our first round of majors will graduate in 2019 so there is not yet outcome data. However, all expect to pursue graduate or professional studies.


This multi-disciplinary major includes faculty primarily from the Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences, and also from basic science departments in the School of Medicine and School of Engineering. The majority of faculty are active members of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology. For individual faculty research programs please visit

Contact Information

Michelle Sulikowski
Director of Undergraduate Studies- BCB
Department of Chemistry
5501 Stevenson Center
Nashville, TN  37240
Phone: (615) 343-4106

Biochemistry and Chemical Biology Website