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ChemWiki: The Dynamic Chemistry Hypertext > Core > Organic Chemistry > Organic Chemistry With a Biological Emphasis

Organic Chemistry With a Biological Emphasis

A free, open-access organic chemistry textbook in which the main focus is on relevance to biology and medicine

The traditional (and still prevalent) way to teach organic chemistry is to focus on examples that are primarily of interest to students who are planning to become professional organic chemists - that is, to focus on the molecules and reactions of organic synthesis, considering mainly non-aqueous conditions and non-biological reagents. The majority of students studying organic chemistry, however, are doing so because they are majoring in biology, biochemistry, or health sciences. They need to learn about the structure and reactivity of organic compounds because, quite simply, organic chemistry is the chemistry of life. What is most interesting and relevant to these students is the organic chemistry that takes place in the context of a living cell. 

In this online textbook, a unique approach is taken to the study of organic chemistry. To the greatest extent possible, biological molecules and biochemical reactions are used to explain and illustrate the central concepts of organic chemistry. This novel approach is most evident in chapters 9-17, which cover the main organic reaction mechanisms in a biological context. However, earlier chapters on organic structure and spectroscopy also focus as much as possible on examples of interest to students of biology and the health sciences. The chemistry of lab synthesis is not ignored - however, these examples are generally grouped together in subsections and introduced to illustrate parallels between laboratory and biological chemistry.

This is a dynamic textbook, meaning that it will be continuously undergoing revision in response to reader input. Please provide your suggestions and ideas in the 'Talk' pages behind each Module.


Organic Chemistry With a Biological Emphasis has been updated to a 2016 edition.  It will take some time to incorporate all of the revisions to the chemwiki, but the new edition is now available here as a free PDF download.



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10:06, 1 Mar 2016


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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 1246120, 1525057, and 1413739.

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