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Prebiotic Chemistry

First Edition

Albert Fahrenbach and Henderson Cleaves

01 October 2023

ISBN: 9780192856586

120 pages

Oxford Chemistry Primers

Price: £27.99

The only text to provide a chemical approach to prebiotic chemistry.



The only text to provide a chemical approach to prebiotic chemistry.

  • The only prebiotic chemistry book with a chemical focus
  • A student-friendly and engaging introduction
  • Uses a range of examples to convey basic concepts in prebiotic chemistry
  • Examines chemical phenomena that have been classified by chemists in different ways over the last 150 years

About the Author(s)

Albert Fahrenbach and Henderson Cleaves

Albert received his BS in Chemistry from Indiana University in 2008, having done research under the tutelage of Professor Amar Flood in synthetic and supramolecular chemistry. He received his PhD from Northwestern University in Organic Chemistry in 2013 under the mentorship of Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart (Nobel Prize 2016) investigating the molecular self-assembly and template-directed syntheses of artificial molecular switches and machines. Albert then moved to Boston to carry out research in origins of life chemistry as a postdoctoral scholar with Professor Jack Szostak (Nobel Prize 2009) at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. His research here focused on nonenzymatic RNA replication and prebiotic synthesis.

Henderson ("Jim") Cleaves is the current president of the International Society for the Study of the Origins of Life. He received his Ph.D in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of California San Diego under the tutelage of pioneering prebiotic chemist Professor Stanley L. Miller. He is a research scientist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a visiting scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Earth and Planets Laboratory, and an adjunct professor at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His current research involves understanding the evolution of complex combinatorial organic reaction networks to help understand the origins of life and the detection of biosignatures for Solar System exploration missions.

Table of Contents

    1:Introductions to Basic Origins of Life Questions
    2:Early Atmosphere and Ocean Chemistry: Earth's First Molecules
    3:An Overview of Biochemistry
    4:An Overview of Metabolism and Reaction Networks
    5:Sugars, Nucleobases and RNA: Prebiotic Ribonucleotide Synthesis
    6:Aqueous Phase Amino Acid Chemistry
    7:Nonenzymatic Polymerization of Nucleic Acids and Peptides
    8:Protocells: Compartmentalization, Replication and Integrated Molecular Function


""Good basic introduction into a very complex and still developing area of research."" - Thomas Wirth, Cardiff University

"A comprehensive, up-to-date introduction to origins of life research. In my opinion, the best introduction to the topic since Miller's & Orgel's "Origins of Life on the Earth."" - Paul B. Rimmer, Cambridge University

Additional Resources

Multiple Choice Questions for each chapter
Open-ended questions for each chapter, and additional video links for each chapter

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