The field of biochemistry is entering an exciting era in which genomic information is being integrated into molecular-level descriptions of the physical processes that make life possible. The Molecules of Life is a new textbook that provides an integrated physical and biochemical foundation for undergraduate students majoring in biology or health sciences. This new generation of molecular biologists and biochemists will harness the tools and insights of physics and chemistry to exploit the emergence of genomics and systems-level information in biology, and will shape the future of medicine. The book integrates fundamental concepts in thermodynamics and kinetics with an introduction to biological mechanism at the level of molecular structure. The central theme is that the ways in which proteins, DNA, and RNA work together in a cell are connected intimately to the structures of these biological macromolecules. The structures, in turn, depend on interactions between the atoms in these molecules, and on the interplay between energy and entropy, which results in the remarkable ability of biological systems to self-assemble and control their own replication.
The Molecules of Life deepens our understanding of how life functions by illuminating the physical principles underpinning many complex biological phenomena, including how nerves transmit signals, the actions of chaperones in protein folding, and how polymerases and ribosomes achieve high fidelity.
John Kuriyan is Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career at Rockefeller University, New York and has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1990. His laboratory uses x-ray crystallography to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins involved in signaling and replication, as well as biochemical, biophysical, and computational analyses to elucidate mechanisms. Kuriyan was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2001. Boyana Konforti is the launch Editor of Cell Reports, an open-access journal focused on short papers in biology. Konforti earned her PhD at Stanford University in the Biochemistry Department with Ronald W. Davis studying the mechanism of DNA recombination. Her postdoctoral studies at Rockefeller University with Magda Konarska and Columbia University with Anna Pyle were on the mechanisms of RNA splicing. Konforti has been a professional editor for over 13 years; most recently she was Chief Editor of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. David Wemmer is Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and has served as Vice Chair, Assistant Dean, and Executive Associate Dean since joining the faculty in 1985. His research in structural biology uses magnetic resonance methods to investigate the structure of proteins and DNA toward a better understanding of how these molecules function. Systems studied include DNA-ligand complexes, covalent DNA adducts, protein-DNA complexes, and diverse proteins involved in cellular regulatory processes. Wemmer is a Fellow of the AAAS and a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi.