The Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology offers three separate Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology. All three programs are designed to provide the student with a broad background in the biological and physical sciences and an opportunity for in depth concentration in one or more of the most active disciplines in the biological sciences.
Cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in the major.
An important aspect of all three undergraduate programs is the requirement for hands-on experience in the laboratory. Laboratory courses are offered in fundamental aspects of biochemistry and microbiology as well as specialized topics such as recombinant DNA techniques, virology, cell culture, immunology, pathogenic microbiology and microbial genetics. Laboratory courses in these topics are not generally available at smaller institutions without graduate and research programs or at many larger research universities where student numbers are too large to accommodate numerous laboratory courses in such specialized areas. At the University of Maine, however, we are large enough to have faculty with expertise in most sub disciplines but small enough in terms of students to be able to provide a wide variety of laboratory courses. We also take pride in the fact that all of our laboratory courses above the introductory level are taught by professors, not by graduate students or part-time instructors. We believe strongly that such close interactions between students and faculty in small groups typical of most laboratory courses is very important and mutually beneficial to the student and the faculty. Because the Department also offers MS and Ph.D. programs in the areas of biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular biology, we provide a variety of opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in independent study and research with individual faculty. In fact, we believe that this is one of the most important aspects of our undergraduate programs. In the required senior year research course, you’ll be part of a research team of faculty, postdoctoral research associates, technicians, and graduate and undergraduate students who are actively engaged in ongoing research projects that are both publicly and privately funded. Field Experience courses also provide opportunities to earn academic credits while working off-campus in industry, hospitals, and research institutes.
The facilities for teaching and research are located in two modern additions to Hitchner Hall. The building contains one of the newest and most modern facilities in New England for teaching and research in biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology, including specialized equipment and laboratories for teaching molecular biology, virology, pathogenic microbiology, and animal cell culture. The University’s Automated DNA Sequencing Facility and BMMB’s Zebrafish Facility are located adjacent to our research laboratories in Hitchner Hall. Close proximity to research laboratories enables students to participate in independent study and undergraduate research projects using state-of-the-art equipment and methods.
Rewarding career opportunities for biochemists, microbiologists, and molecular biologists are exceptionally numerous and varied. A career in one of these fields is not just a job, but an opportunity to explore new phenomena, participate at the frontiers of the most actively expanding areas of science today, and make significant contributions to human beings, our society and our world. These disciplines are at the core of the rapidly expanding fields of biotechnology, molecular biology and the allied health professions. Graduates of these programs work in: public health laboratories, medical, dental, veterinary, and university research laboratories; pharmaceutical, food, and chemical industries; environmental research and monitoring laboratories; colleges and universities; and a variety of existing as well as emerging genetic engineering and biotechnology industries.
Majoring in biochemistry, microbiology or molecular biology provides the ideal preparation for further study in medical, dental, veterinary and other health-related professional schools. Students interested in these careers should register in their first year with the Health Professions Committee, which provides information and assistance in selecting proper supporting courses and the application process.
Accelerated UM/UNECOM Binary Degree Program with a BS in Biochemistry or Microbiology
The University of Maine and the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) cooperate to offer an Accelerated Binary Degree Program (3+4 program), which allows qualifying students majoring in Biochemistry or Microbiology at UMaine to be admitted to the College of Osteopathic Medicine at UNE after three years at UMaine rather than the customary four. Upon successful completion of the first year of medical school at UNE, students participating in this program will receive a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from UMaine. The intent of this program is to facilitate an increase in the number of primary care physicians practicing in the State of Maine. This agreement is specifically between the University of Maine and the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Consult the Health Professions Office for qualifications and curriculum requirements.
Biochemistry is concerned with the study of all living systems at the cellular and molecular level and is, therefore, fundamental to all life sciences. The field is broad in its disciplinary subjects and applications. It emphasizes the use of chemistry and other physical sciences to understand basic life processes and the products of such processes. In addition to traditional study of the structure and function of biological molecules and understanding of metabolism, the field has come to encompass aspects of molecular biology, molecular genetics, and many areas of biotechnology. It forms a major component of modern medical research and practice, bioengineering and contemporary agriculture and environmental research.
Microbiology is the study of microscopic forms of life such as bacteria and viruses and the immune response to these microorganisms. It is a broad, multidisciplinary field using techniques of genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, ecology, and pathology to study the biology of microorganisms from gene expression at the molecular level to the composition of populations of microorganisms. Exciting discoveries involving microorganisms have important and far-reaching implications for biotechnology, molecular biology, medicine, public health and the environment. AIDS and other important diseases present new and exciting challenges for microbiologists in the public health field. Advances in recombinant DNA technology, immunology, and the ability to manipulate the biology of microbial cells have revolutionized science and thrust microbiology into the center of the rapidly expanding arena of biotechnology.
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Molecular and Cellular Biology has evolved in recent years as a response to the increased ability to study organisms at the molecular level. This discipline involves the systematic study of the molecular and structural basis for the organization, transmission and expression of genetic information, in addition to the general study of macromolecular systems involved in the structure and function of cellular components. Recent years have seen explosive advances in the study of DNA and molecular genetics including gene cloning, sequencing and mapping. Developments in recombinant DNA technology have opened up entirely new areas of study and provided powerful techniques that are revolutionizing the pharmaceutical, health and agricultural industries and have spawned new industries in biotechnology.