The study of how molecules function in living bodies owes a great deal to the work of those chemists who determined the structure of these same molecules and sometimes synthesized them. Most biomolecules are macromolecules, often including the repeating units characteristic of polymers. That form and function are linked was a long-held premise in the life sciences, giving confidence to chemists and others to hypothesize how various molecules might work with other molecules in the body. Newer instrumental techniques like NMR permitted “seeing” what was going on at the molecular level.
Proteins, most especially enzymes, and sugars are among the most important biomolecules investigated since the 1800s.
Determining the structure of the biomolecule deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was arguably the most important chemical discovery of the 20th century.