List of life sciences
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The life sciences comprise the branches of science that involve the scientific study of organisms – such as microorganisms, plants, and animals including human beings – as well as related considerations like bioethics. While biology remains the centerpiece of the life sciences, technological advances in molecular biology and biotechnology have led to a burgeoning of specializations and interdisciplinary fields.
Some life sciences focus on a specific type of life. For example, zoology is the study of animals, while botany is the study of plants. Other life sciences focus on aspects common to all or many life forms, such as anatomy and genetics. Yet other fields are interested in technological advances involving living things, such as bio-engineering. Another major, though more specific, branch of life sciences involves understanding the mind – neuroscience.
The life sciences are helpful in improving the quality and standard of life. They have applications in health, agriculture, medicine, and the pharmaceutical and food science industries.
There is considerable overlap between many of the topics of study in the life sciences.
Biology and its branches
Biology – burst and eclectic field, composed of many branches and subdisciplines. However, despite the broad scope of biology, there are certain general and unifying concepts within it that govern all study and research, consolidating it into a single, coherent field. In general, biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the synthesis and creation of new species. It is also understood today that all organisms survive by consuming and transforming energy and by regulating their internal environment to maintain a stable and vital condition. Here are some of biology's major branches:
- Anatomy – study of form and function, in plants, animals, and other organisms, or specifically in humans
- Biochemistry – study of the chemical reactions required for life to exist and function, usually a focus on the cellular level
- Bioengineering – study of biology through the means of engineering with an emphasis on applied knowledge and especially related to biotechnology
- Bioinformatics – interdisciplinary scientific field that develops methods for storing, retrieving, organizing and analyzing biological data. A major activity in bioinformatics is to develop software tools to generate useful biological knowledge.
- Biolinguistics – study of the biology and evolution of language
- Biological Anthropology – the study of the biological basis of humans, non-human primates, and hominins ; a subfield of [Anthropology]. Also known as physical anthropology
- Biomathematics – mathematical representation, treatment and modeling of biological processes, using techniques and tools of applied mathematics
- Biomechanics – the study of the mechanics of living beings
- Biomedical research – study of health and disease
- Biophysics – study of biological processes by applying the theories and methods traditionally used in the physical sciences
- Biotechnology – study of the manipulation of living matter, including genetic modification and [synthetic biology]
- Botany – study of plants
- Cell biology – study of the cell as a complete unit, and the molecular and chemical interactions that occur within a living cell
- Developmental biology – study of the processes through which an organism forms, from zygote to full structure
- Ecology – study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with the non-living elements of their environment
- Entomology – study of insects
- Epidemiology – a major component of public health research, studying factors affecting the health of populations
- Ethology – the study of animal behaviour
- Evolutionary biology – study of the origin and descent of species over time
- Evolutionary developmental biology – study of the evolution of development including its molecular control
- Genetics – study of genes and heredity.
- Hematology (also known as Haematology) – study of blood and blood-forming organs.
- Marine biology – study of ocean ecosystems, plants, animals, and other living beings
- Microbiology – study of microscopic organisms (microorganisms) and their interactions with other living organisms
- Molecular biology – study of biology and biological functions at the molecular level, some cross over with biochemistry, genetics and microbiology
- Neuroscience– study of the nervous system
- Physiology – study of the functioning of living organisms and the organs and parts of living organisms
- Population biology – study of groups of conspecific organisms
- Sociobiology – study of the biological bases of sociology
- Structural biology – a branch of molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics concerned with the molecular structure of biological macromolecules
- Synthetic biology – the design and construction of new biological entities such as enzymes, genetic circuits and cells, or the redesign of existing biological systems (LY)
- Systems biology – study of the integration and dependencies of various components within a biological system, with particular focus upon the role of metabolic pathways and cell-signaling strategies in physiology.
- Toxicology – study of the effects of chemicals on living organisms
- Zoology – study of animals, including classification, physiology, development, and behavior.
- Zymology – study of fermentation and its practical uses.
New and other life science types 
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- Biocomputers – biocomputers use systems of biologically derived molecules, such as DNA and proteins, to perform computational calculations involving storing, retrieving, and processing data. The development of biocomputers has been made possible by the expanding new science of nanobiotechnology.
- Biocontrol – bioeffector-method of controlling pests (including insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases) using other living organisms.
- Biodynamics – method of organic farming originally developed by Rudolf Steiner that employs what proponents describe as "a holistic understanding of agricultural processes".:145 One of the first sustainable agriculture movements,
- Bioelectronics – the electrical state of biological matter significantly affects its structure and function, compare for instance the membrane potential, the signal transduction by neurons, the isoelectric point (IEP) and so on. Micro- and nano-electronic components and devices have increasingly been combined with biological systems like medical implants, biosensors, lab-on-a-chip devices etc. causing the emergence of this new scientific field.
- Biomaterials – any matter, surface, or construct that interacts with biological systems. As a science, biomaterials is about fifty years old. The study of biomaterials is called biomaterials science. It has experienced steady and strong growth over its history, with many companies investing large amounts of money into the development of new products. Biomaterials science encompasses elements of medicine, biology, chemistry, tissue engineering and materials science.
- Biomedical science – healthcare science, also known as biomedical science, is a set of applied sciences applying portions of natural science or formal science, or both, to develop knowledge, interventions, or technology of use in healthcare or public health. Such disciplines as medical microbiology, clinical virology, clinical epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, and biomedical engineering are medical sciences. Explaining physiological mechanisms operating in pathological processes, however, pathophysiology can be regarded as basic science.
- Biomedicine – branch of medical science that applies biological and other natural-science principles to clinical practice. Biomedicine is related to the ability of humans to cope with environmental stress. The branch especially applies to biology and physiology.
- Biomonitoring – measurement of the body burden of toxic chemical compounds, elements, or their metabolites, in biological substances. Often, these measurements are done in blood and urine.
- Biopolymer – polymers produced by living organisms; in other words, they are polymeric biomolecules. Since they are polymers, biopolymers contain monomeric units that are covalently bonded to form larger structures. There are three main classes of biopolymers, classified according to the monomeric units used and the structure of the biopolymer formed: polynucleotides (RNA and DNA), which are long polymers composed of 13 or more nucleotide monomers; polypeptides, which are short polymers of amino acids; and polysaccharides, which are often linear bonded polymeric carbohydrate structures.
- Environmental health – multidisciplinary field concerned with environmental epidemiology, toxicology, and exposure science.
- Environmental science – multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, (including but not limited to ecology, physics, chemistry, zoology, mineralogy, oceanology, limnology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science, and geography) to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems.
- Fermentation technology – study of use of microorganisms for industrial manufacturing of various products like vitamins, amino acids, antibiotics, beer, wine, etc.
- Food science – applied science devoted to the study of food. Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce and conserve these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, study of the effects of food on the human body, sensory evaluation of products using panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological, physical (texture and rheology) and chemical testing.
- Genomics – applies recombinant DNA, DNA sequencing methods, and bioinformatics to sequence, assemble, and analyze the function and structure of genomes (the complete set of DNA within a single cell of an organism). The field includes efforts to determine the entire DNA sequence of organisms and fine-scale genetic mapping. The field also includes studies of intragenomic phenomena such as heterosis, epistasis, pleiotropy and other interactions between loci and alleles within the genome. In contrast, the investigation of the roles and functions of single genes is a primary focus of molecular biology or genetics and is a common topic of modern medical and biological research. Research of single genes does not fall into the definition of genomics unless the aim of this genetic, pathway, and functional information analysis is to elucidate its effect on, place in, and response to the entire genome's networks.
- Immunogenetics – Immunogenetics or immungenetics is the branch of medical research that explores the relationship between the immune system and genetics. Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, are complex genetic traits which result from defects in the immune system. Identification of genes defining the immune defects may identify new target genes for therapeutic approaches. Alternatively, genetic variations can also help to define the immunological pathway leading to disease.
- Immunotherapy – is the "treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response". Immunotherapies designed to elicit or amplify an immune response are classified as activation immunotherapies, while immunotherapies that reduce or suppress are classified as suppression immunotherapies.
- Kinesiology – Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics, is the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms. Applications of kinesiology to human health include: biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise. Individuals who have earned degrees in kinesiology can work in research, the fitness industry, clinical settings, and in industrial environments. Studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques.
- Medical device – A medical device is an instrument, apparatus, implant, in vitro reagent, or similar or related article that is used to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease or other conditions, and does not achieve its purposes through chemical action within or on the body (which would make it a drug). Whereas medicinal products (also called pharmaceuticals) achieve their principal action by pharmacological, metabolic or immunological means, medical devices act by other means like physical, mechanical, or thermal means.
- Medical imaging – images of the human body (or parts and function thereof) for clinical purposes (medical procedures seeking to reveal, diagnose, or examine disease) or medical science (including the study of normal anatomy and physiology). Although imaging of removed organs and tissues can be performed for medical reasons, such procedures are not usually referred to as medical imaging, but rather are a part of pathology. Examples of medical imaging include:
- Neuroethology – Neuroethology is the evolutionary and comparative approach study of animal behavior and the understanding of an animal's nervous system.
- Optogenetics – Optogenetics is a neuromodulation technique employed in neuroscience that uses a combination of techniques from optics and genetics to control and monitor the activities of individual neurons in living tissue—even within freely-moving animals—and to precisely measure the effects of those manipulations in real-time. The key reagents used in optogenetics are light-sensitive proteins. Spatially-precise neuronal control is achieved using optogenetic actuators like channelrhodopsin, halorhodopsin, and archaerhodopsin, while temporally-precise recordings can be made with the help of optogenetic sensors like Clomeleon, Mermaid, and SuperClomeleon.
- Optometry – Optometry is a health care profession concerned with the health of the eyes and related structures, as well as vision, visual systems, and vision information processing in humans.
- Pharmacogenomics – Pharmacogenomics (a portmanteau of pharmacology and genomics) is the technology that analyses how genetic makeup affects an individual's response to drugs. It deals with the influence of genetic variation on drug response in patients by correlating gene expression or single-nucleotide polymorphisms with a drug's efficacy or toxicity.
- Pharmaceutical sciences – The pharmaceutical sciences are a group of interdisciplinary areas of study concerned with the design, action, delivery, disposition, inorganic, physical, biochemical and analytical biology (anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology), epidemiology, statistics, chemometrics, mathematics, physics, and chemical engineering, and applies their principles to the study of drugs.
- Pharmacology – biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (within the body) molecule which exerts a biochemical and/or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.
- Population dynamics – Population dynamics is the study of short-term and long-term changes in the size and age composition of populations, and the biological and environmental processes influencing those changes. Population dynamics deals with the way populations are affected by birth and death rates, and by immigration and emigration, and studies topics such as ageing populations or population decline.
- Proteomics – Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions. Proteins are vital parts of living organisms, as they are the main components of the physiological metabolic pathways of cells. The proteome is the entire set of proteins, produced or modified by an organism or system. This varies with time and distinct requirements, or stresses, that a cell or organism undergoes.
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