Organs such as the heart and brain are generated by what are called tissue - for example muscle, nerves and blood. These tissues are made from a variety of diffent cell types. All organisms, from single celled amoebas right through to human beings, who have 37 trillion cells (that’s 37 followed by 12 zeros), are made up of cells.
Molecular biology is a science that focuses on the biological activities that occur within these cells at a molecular level. The chemical processes that occur on this very small scale are what makes life possible, so it’s not surprising that so many scientists are interested in it.
Molecular biology is unique in its research focus from other scientific fields. However, it shares many of the techniques, methods and concepts with other sciences such as biology, chemistry, genetics and biochemistry. It could even be seen as a huge melting pot of these four disciplines.
Molecular biologists are interested in exploring and studying the following components of cells:
- Their characteristics
- What they are made up from
- The chemical processes that occur
- How molecules control how a cell functions and grows.
Scientists were looking at how molecules worked in organisms as far back as the 1930s, but it wasn’t until James Watson and Francis Crick uncovered the structure of the DNA-helix in April 1953 that modern molecular biology was born. This discovery was pivotal to molecular biology because the DNA-helix was the molecule that carries genetic information from one generation to another.