International Year of Chemistry, 2011

UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization IUPAC - International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Contact Detail

Christophe Rouillon Ideas Activities
  • Doctor, University of St Andrews
    St Andrews, Fife KY16, UK
  • Email
  • Sector:

    Research Laboratories
  • Organizations:

    University of St Andrews
    Biochemical Society
  • IYC Interests:

    Increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry
    Encourage interest of young people in chemistry
  • Web Site:


Chemistry exists everywhere from mineral to organic.

I'm biochemist so working at the level where Biology meet Chemistry. Indeed, every biological processes are driven by chemical reactions.

My interest in the IYC 2011 would be to allow public and young people to understand a bit better the processes of DNA synthesis and DNA cutting by specialized proteins (enzymes).

Indeed, the basis of life is DNA, a quite simple polymer in term of chemistry. This polymer contains the genetic information and is found in every alive organisms.

Life is about sharing, dividing and maintaining this genetic information. When a cell divide in to two cells, the genomic DNA has to be accurately synthesized during the process of DNA replication. That is done by a DNA polymerase.

As cells are very exposed to tough environments such as ionizing or UV radiations, chemical agents,... mutations on DNA or breakages occur at very high rate. So there are many proteins involved in checking and repairing damages. One important class would be proteins cutting DNA to excise damage. There are called endonucleases.

What I suggest here is to show some of the chemical mechanisms of DNA synthesis as well as DNA cutting.

On one side the DNA polymer, in the other side the catalytic part of the protein (amino acid residues involved in the reaction).

I would also like to focus on the fact that some of these enzymatic proteins are used in laboratories as tools to detect diseases.