Promoting the Understanding of the Molecular Nature of Life Processes

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 12,000 members.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of scientific and educational journals: the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics,  and the Journal of Lipid Research, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.



Project at A Glance

Big_PictureThe ASBMB has a well-developed interest in education research and practice as well as a history of promoting biochemistry and molecular biology education as evidenced by the publication of the recommended Undergraduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Curriculum in 1992 and a 2008 report to The Teagle Foundation titled Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Liberal Education.  In 2009, the society was awarded a 5-year, RCN-UBE National Science Foundation grant to begin developing a concept inventory specific to the field of biochemistry and molecular biology.  The Principal Investigators (PI) for the grant are Ellis Bell, D. Phil. (University of Richmond), Cheryl Bailey, Ph.D. (University of Nebraska - Lincoln), Harold White, Ph.D. (University of Delaware), Duane Sears, Ph.D. (University of California Santa Barbara), Margaret Johnson, Ph.D. (University of Alabama) and Carla Mattos, Ph.D. (North Carolina State University). 

The BMB Concept Inventory project brings together a wide range of individuals with expertise in concept inventory development, education research in chemistry and biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, process skills, and student assessment. The project will draw upon previous and current efforts in concept inventory development, education theory, pedagogical approaches and assessment to create a BMB Concept Inventory specific for practitioners of biochemistry and molecular biology education.  In doing so, we seek to minimize isolated and overlapping development of assessment tools, and to widen the scope and inclusion of diverse groups in the development and evaluation of these tools.

Who Can Participate?

Faculty and researchers from community colleges, primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI) and research institutions that serve diverse student populations are invited to participate in this project and form teams of common interest.  Recognizing that Biochemistry and Molecular Biology depend heavily on foundational concepts and skills from related disciplines such as Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology, the involvement, from the very earliest stages, of faculty and educators from a broad scientific base is emphasized in the network of faculty that will be created as a central part of this project.  Three types of groups will be formed for the purpose of this project: Conceptual Assessment in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (CABMB) Group, Core Working Group and the Undergraduate Affiliated Network (UAN).  It is critical that individuals making up these three groups represent faculty from across the country with diverse interests and expertise including educational research, assessment, scientific research and teaching.  Please contact if you are interested in contributing to the project. 

Project Goals and Specific Aims

The three long term goals of the BMB Concept Inventory Project are 1) to create synergy that will strengthen education research and quality of publications, 2) to form new networks among faculty members at diverse undergraduate institutions and 3) to create a central and coherent resource of pedagogical approaches and concept assessment tools in areas related to biochemistry and molecular biology undergraduate education.  

Specific Aim 1: Identify foundational concepts in terms of core knowledge and foundational principles, research and skills.
Specific Aim 2: Create a taxonomy of these foundational concepts and skills and link them to topics outlined in the undergraduate curriculum recommendations of ASBMB
Specific Aim 3: Develop and evaluate appropriate assessment tools for the topics identified in Specific Aim 1. 
Specific Aim 4: Create a toolkit that can be easily accessed by the academic community.


The Conceptual Assessment in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology group (CABMB) functions similarly to the Conceptual Assessment in Biology (CAB) group that was formed to develop concept inventories for biology (reference article).  The CABMB met in March, 2010 to begin discussions about core concepts and assessments in biochemistry and molecular biology and to set a general blueprint for the project trajectory.  The CABMB Group was further organized into three focus groups: Concept and Foundation Group, Process Skills Group, and Undergraduate Education Research Group. 

Click here to see list of CABMB group members.

Core Working Group

Integrated into the CABMB  are the Core Working Group of 12 members from the CABMB and six project PI and Co-PIs.  The make-up of the Core Working Group is intentionally fluid with mechanisms built-in (such as workshops at the ASBMB Annual Meeting) for incorporating new and interested members into the Core Working Group.  The Core Working Group contains a mixture of expertise and represents all six regions of the UAN.  The group will meet annually to help facilitate regional working group meetings and will be similar in nature to the CABMB group meeting.  In addition, the Core Working Group meetings will serve as a mechanism for disseminating outcomes and for promoting participation from the larger Biochemistry and Molecular Biology research and education community. 

Visit the Working Group page to see a list of current Core Working Group members.

UAN Working Group

The Undergraduate Affiliate Network (UAN) is an ASBMB sponsored undergraduate education network comprised of over 50 undergraduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biology departments from colleges and universities across the country.  The UAN is divided into six geographical regions: Southwest, Southeast, South-central, Northwest, Northeast, and North-central.  The UAN working group is comprised of faculty members of the UAN.  Their role is to organize and host a regional meeting in each of the six UAN regions from year 1-5 of the project.  Regional meetings are designed to promote goals 1 and 2 (see above), and to disseminate project outcomes broadly and systematically.  Each regional meeting will be facilitated by two members of the Core Working Group along with one project PI/Co-PIs. 

Learn more about the ASBMB UAN.