Skip to main content
Reveal menu for sighted


Biological & Pharmaceutical Chemistry, B.Sc.

In the 18th century, the face of society was scarred by smallpox, a devastating virus that killed untold millions. Smallpox changed the course of history. Then in 1796, the English physician Edward Jenner experimented with a smallpox vaccine-and the war on illness scored one of its earliest victories. Now, with the help of modern medicines, small-pox has been eradicated - the first time in human history that a disease has been eliminated. The 20th century may well be remembered as the beginning of modern medicine. Health care has made great strides over the past one hundred years, curing illness and prolonging life. Much of this success is due to pharmaceutical research, which has developed hundreds of medications that cure sickness, prevent disease and improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.
The Evolution of Health
At the beginning of this century, a global influenza epidemic killed more than all the battles of World War I. Measles, polio, diphtheria, pneumonia, rheumatic fever were all potentially life-threatening. In many cases, doctors could only treat the symptoms, not cure the disease. Since that time, new families of antibiotics have kept one step ahead of infection and have taken away much of the fear that people experienced when they felt their child's forehead for fever or heard an ominous cough. But new challenges remain and new medications are always needed (e.g. SARS, Monkey pox, West Nile Virus etc.). Developing a medication takes years of intensive investigation. But a new drug is only one fruit of that research. More importantly, every drug development is one small step toward a greater understanding of the complicated mechanisms underlying illness and health. AIDS research, for example, generated a more detailed understanding of how the immune system works - knowledge that can be applied to the development of new asthma medications or, one day, to stopping the progression of a devastating disease such as multiple sclerosis.
Investing in the quality of people's lives is more than just humanitarian-it also makes good sense. Canada's pharmaceutical companies are the country's leaders in health care research and development, spending close to $ 1 billion a year. But that investment has yielded enormous dividends. In the past 20 years alone, the death rate from acute respiratory infections and rheumatic fever has fallen by 40 percent deaths from heart disease have dropped by 26 percent, and the time Canadians spend in hospital has been cut by one-third. As well, the chances of surviving common afflictions such as high blood pressure or stroke have greatly improved. As the pace of drug discoveries accelerates, these gains can only increase - allowing younger patients with schizophrenia to rebuild their lives at home instead of an institution, or enabling older patients with Alzheimer's disease to function better and remain with their loved ones.
Quality of Life
At the start of the 20th century, the average Canadian's life expectancy was 59 years. Improving people's health and treating their illnesses has gradually extended that to 78 years today. While we would all like to live longer lives, the quality of that life is equally important. In recent years, great effort has been made to develop new treatments to enhance the day-to-day experience of those living with medical problems. Thanks to the work of thousands of pharmaceutical/universities researchers worldwide, innovative new medications are continually being developed. In the next few years we can expect to see more great advances in treatment.
Partners in Health
Canada's 60 research-based pharmaceutical companies are the leaders in health care research and new drug development. The innovative pharmaceutical industry is the largest single source of health research funds, accounting for 42 pecent of medical research in Canada. These companies employ over 10,000 people in pharmaceutical research and biotechnology, working toward a better future as our partners in health.
Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Major at the University of Guelph
If you're looking for a career in the pharmaceutical industry (e.g. the design and synthesis of new pharmaceutical products, modelling and simulation of drug properties, method development and analyses of drugs, vaccines and other biological molecules), or if you're planning further studies in the medical and health sectors (Medical School, Dental School, Pharmacy School, etc), then this new major has been designed especially for you. This major takes advantage of our strength in the Biological Sciences whilst maintaining a strong chemistry-oriented understanding of the molecular basis for biological structure and function. * A program at the interface of chemistry and biology, one of the most exciting and rapidly growing interdisciplinary areas in science. * Designed for students who want the excitement of the biological sciences coupled with the depth of understanding, and the wide applicability of the physical sciences. * Aimed at providing opportunities and skills for students interested in careers which cross traditional boundaries in the chemical and biological sciences, and offering the flexibility which comes with a solid understanding of chemistry, the central science. * A high quality laboratory experience with a focus on organic synthesis and analytical tools of relevance to both chemistry and biology. * Co-operative education opportunities to gain work experience and complement your academic training. * The option to select hands-on training in pharmaceutical analysis, pharmacology and applied toxicology biopharmaceuticals through Seneca College. * Learning Centres for 1st year courses and laboratories . Small classes after 1st year, with plenty of access to faculty and graduate TA's for assistance. Guelph is well known for the breadth of its biological science programs, and chemistry students can avail themselves of the opportunity to take biology courses in a number of areas as part of the Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Program. Majoring in Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry provides the flexibility to seek opportunities over a wide range of sciences : materials science, metallurgy, nanotechnology, engineering, medicine, energy, atmospheric science, pharmaceutical science and drug design, life sciences, proteomics, the environment, etc.

Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Slideshow by Prof. William Tam.