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Simple paradigms that explain living systems, health, and disease

Life's Chemistry Press

Making Life's Molecules easy to understand


 There are unanswered questions!

  • Why are there only 4 (if you count Uracil, then 5) nucleotides to create the genetic building blocks of life? Why not 6 or 8?
  •  Why is fog difficult to see through even though it is made of minute water droplets?
  •  How can a proton (an electron-less hydrogen atom) travel down protein side chains, forming proton currents?
  • Why are arsenic and bromine toxic, but elements very close to it in the Periodic Table (like Selenium) are vital to living systems?
  • Why do some vitamins and biochemical cofactors have part of the genetic code nucleotide molecule in their structure? For example, NAD+/NADP+ and Coenzyme A have adenine as part of their structure.

We bring together research that explores living and inert molecules. 

  • Through brief posts and articles, common threads are developed and explained.
  • There are huge haystacks of data; Can one make sense of it? Easily? We think so! 
  • There are common patterns in nature that we want to highlight. Through this, we believe that it is possible to see how things work at the molecular level.  
  • Water - as a vital part of life and nature - has its own huge haystack. Given that water is the basis for all life, many of the posts and articles are devoted to water in natural systems. 

The Story

Juman Hijab has been in clinical practice as a physician for more than three decades. Her lifelong interest has been in the chemistry of life. 


It all started early in her caree, when she was researching the proteins that help glucose go from inside the intestine, across the cells, and into the blood.

The fascinating fact is that those proteins have a concordant orientation. Their carboxyl COOH heads in the apical membrane of the cell face the intestinal lumen (their amine NH2 tails) swim in the cytoplasm. 

As if the cells have learned to follow the leader, the proteins in the basement membrane of the cell have the carboxyl COOH heads swimming in the cytoplasm and the amine NH2 tails facing the plasma. It seems that this protein orientation will encourage the glucose molecule to be shuttled from the apical membrane to the cytoplasm, and then from the cytoplasm to the plasma.

A neat system for moving molecules across cells. 


But how do cells do this? What determines the orientation of proteins in membranes? 


From these questions, Dr. Hijab started looking into cancer cells (which have their own patterns of protein orientations) to living ions (and why only certain elements of the periodic table are integrated in living things) to water (the basis of all living things). 

Juman Hijab

Juman Hijab, MD MPH

“There is a need to connect information from divergent fields in such a way that we don’t have to memorize facts".

Life is chemistry.


Juman is a regular contributor to Life’s Chemistry Press. This work developed over years, with a central goal of having the biochemistry and physiology of life make sense to many audiences. In writing, concepts have been drawn from multiple disciplines. 


About Juman Hijab


Juman's lifelong interest has been in the chemistry of living cells. By training, Juman is a physician, and at heart, she remains a clinician. If the ideas described here create new ways of approaching disease, it will be worth all the time and effort that has gone into producing this work. 

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