Bioorganic chemistry applies the principles and techniques of organic chemistry to solve problems of biological relevance, taking inspiration from biology to develop new chemical processes. Cornell bioorganic chemists emphasize chemical and molecular approaches to solving important biological problems. Research areas include the application of synthetic and physical organic chemistry to the study of enzymes, metabolic pathways and nucleic acids. This includes the development of mechanism-based enzyme inhibitors; elucidation of enzyme mechanism and structure and studies of coenzyme reactivity. 

Chemical investigations are extended to studies of receptor recognition, hormone and drug activity, and the mechanism of chemical communicants such as pheromones. Ultimately, insights from biology are taken to develop catalysts that mimic enzymes and coenzymes.