Chemical and Physical Biology

Brief Description of Concentration

CPB logoChemical and Physical Biology provides a link between classical approaches to studying biology and the chemical tools and physical methods required to understand dynamic changes in complex biological systems. 

Learning Objectives

The Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB) concentration has several learning objectives, a few of which are listed below:

  • Tackle biological problems using an integrated approach involving physical, chemical, quantitative, and computational skills
  • Apply the scientific method to solve problems, both in and out of the lab
  • Critically review scientific literature and evidence

Gateway Courses

First Year

  • Math: Starting as recommended, up to Math 19A,B/Math 21A,B/Applied Math 21A,B or equivalent
  • Chemistry: General chemistry PS1/PS10/PS11/CHEM 40
  • Life sciences: either LS 1a (or LPSA) and LS 1b, or LS50

Second Year

  • MCB 60 and MCB 63/64/65/68/80
  • Organic chemistry starting with CHEM 17/CHEM 20


Many alumni go on to pursue graduate or professional programs, either straight out of college or after having spent a few years in the workplace. The concentration builds a strong foundation in the life sciences, naturally equipping concentrators for research-based opportunities. Our students have excelled in a wide variety of spaces like consulting, finance, education, medicine, etc. A handful of our alumni are highlighted below.

Isha Jain PhD (CPB ‘12) Assistant Professor, UCSF

Kevin Ni MD/PhD (CPB ’12)

Robert Powers PhD (CPB ’14) Intellectual Property Lawyer

Alexandra Rojek (CPB ’15), Resident physician at the University of Chicago