Chalcogenide glasses constitute the only class of materials that remain fully amorphous while exhibiting broad optical transparency over the full infrared region from 2-20 microns. As such, they can be shaped into complex optical elements while retaining a clear optical window that encompass the vibrational signals of virtually any molecules. Chalcogenide glasses are therefore ideal materials for designing biological and chemical sensors based on vibrational spectroscopy. In this paper we review the properties of these glasses and the corresponding design of optical elements for bio-chemical sensing. Amorphous chalcogenides offer a very wide compositional landscape that permit to tune their physical properties to match specific demands for the production of optical devices. This includes tailoring the infrared window over specific ranges of wavelength such as the long-wave infrared region to capture important vibrational signal including the "signature region" of micro-organisms or the bending mode of CO2 molecules. Additionally, compositional engineering enables tuning the viscosity-temperature dependence of the glass melt in order to control the rheological properties that are fundamental to the production of glass elements. Indeed, exquisite control of the viscosity is key to the fabrication process of many optical elements such as fiber drawing, lens molding, surface embossing or reflow of microresonators. Optimal control of these properties then enables the design and fabrication of optimized infrared sensors such as Fiber Evanescent Wave Spectroscopy (FEWS) sensors, Whispering Gallery Modes (WGM) micro-resonator sensors, nanostructured surfaces for integrated optics and surface-enhanced processes, or lens molding for focused collection of infrared signals. Many of these sensor designs can be adapted to collect and monitor the vibrational signal of live microorganisms to study their metabolism in controlled environmental conditions. Further materials engineering enable the design of opto-electrophoretic sensors that permit simultaneous capture and detection of hazardous bio-molecules such as bacteria, virus and proteins using a conducting glass that serves as both an electrode and an optical elements. Upon adequate spectral analysis such as Principal Component Analysis (PCA) or Partial Least Square (PLS) regression these devices enable highly selective identification of hazardous microorganism such as different strains of bacteria and food pathogens.