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In its broadest term, chemical biology is defined as the application of chemical principles to biochemistry and the medical sciences. Examples include therapeutics, drug delivery systems, medicinal chemistry, or structural biology, where in all cases the use of chemistry is central. Chemical biologists often rely on small molecules to investigate and control living systems. This common approach begs quite a few questions. Where do you get these molecules? What are the targets of these agents? How do you know that you are having an effect on the biological system being probed? Which specific targets are giving rise to the responses observed? The answers to these questions necessitate a multi-disciplinary approach that incorporates everything from synthetic and analytical chemistry to structural and molecular biology.

Our main goal is to provide students with interdisciplinary training that is at the interface of chemistry, biochemistry, and biology, with a primary emphasis on understanding how the chemical biology approach can be used to solve complex biological problems such as the mechanisms of disease, the regulation of biological pathways and the roles of different biomolecules in controlling cellular function (or dysfunction).

The interdisciplinary nature of the Chemical Biology graduate program at McMaster is reflected by the diversity of our affiliated faculty members.  These highly engaged 40 principal investigators come from seven different departments (Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Pathology, and Molecular Medicine, Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Astronomy) across three faculties (Sciences, Engineering, and Health Sciences) at McMaster. These investigators are leaders in diverse Chemical Biology fields and they engage in several collaborations within McMaster as well as other research institutions worldwide.

Read the full letter from Dr. Melacini, Director of the Chemical Biology graduate program

Now accepting applications.

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Latest News

  • June 2022:  Congratulations to Anthony Rullo on your excellent publication in ACS Chemical Biology.
  • July 2021: Congratulation to Ishac Nazy on your excellent publication in Nature.
  • May 2020: Congratulations to Alexander H. Jesmer and Dr. Ryan G. Wylie on your excellent publication in RSC Advances.

  • June 2020: Congratulations to Michelle Saoi and Dr. Philip Britz-McKibbin on your excellent publication in Scientific Reports.

  • June 2020: Congratulations to Olivia Byun and Dr. Giuseppe Melacini on your excellent publication in Science Advances.

  • July 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Brent S. Weber and Dr. Eric D. Brown on your excellent publication in Cell Reports.

  • September 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Ryan G. Wylie for its recent CIHR grant award (~600k)

Upcoming Events

2023 – 2024 Chembio Community meeting schedule 

September 20, 2023 –  Dr. Sara Andres will be sharing a technique called Micro-scale thermophoresis, that measures protein- ligand affinities, covering some theory and practicalities in experimental set-up.

October 18, 2023 –

November 15, 2023 –

December 20, 2023 –

January 17, 2024 –

February 21, 2024 – Dana Sowa, Andres Lab

March 20, 2024 – Polina Gkragkopoulou, Whitney Lab

April 17, 2024 – Laiba Khatri – Sadeghi Lab



Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology

McMaster University

AN Bourns Science Building, Room 156
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4M1