Introduction to Bioorganic Chemistry and Chemical Biology
David Van Vranken and Greg Weiss
Garland Science, £48.00
The journal Nature Chemical Biology states that "chemical biology is both the use of chemistry to advance a molecular understanding of biology and the harnessing of biology to advance chemistry". In other words, biology is not just for biologists. That said, one cannot advance biology without understanding the basics of the science itself and this book is beneficial to chemists in that regard.
It is often said that juxtaposing two separate fields can generate new ideas and ways of thinking. This is the approach that the authors have taken here by aiming, according to the blurb on the back of the book, to "blend modern tools of organic chemistry with concepts of biology, physiology, and medicine". They have succeeded.
The text is clearly set out and there is good coverage of all aspects of the subject area ranging from the structure of DNA to gene chip technology. I particularly liked the use of chemical notation to explain the mechanisms of biological reactions.
In common with most modern textbooks there is an accompanying website with extra information. In some cases I felt that the level was perhaps a bit on the basic side for the intended audience of upper-level undergraduate and new graduate students but, overall, this is a useful book and I am sure that both organic chemists and biologists will gain from the novel approach to teaching the subject matter.