What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is a broad scientific discipline that study the minute characteristics of organisms and their biological processes. It is the study of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids which are the fundamental molecules of life. It is concerned with the chemistry of the biological processes and deals with the chemical combinations and reactions which take place in biological processes such as growth, metabolism, reproduction, heredity etc., as well as the effect of the environment on living organisms. Biochemists combine the knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, microbiology, and genetics to unravel the complex puzzles of life.

Work of a Biochemists and How They Impact Our Lives

By studying structures and functions of enzymes, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, process of metabolism and the molecular, biochemists find uses for biomolecules. For example, a biochemist may use a certain lipid as a food additive. Alternatively, a biochemist might find a substitute for a usual biomolecule. For example, biochemists help to develop artificial sweeteners. Biochemistry finds application in clinical and forensic science and in the food and pharmacological industries. In addition, biochemistry facilitates cells to produce new products. Gene therapy is a very promising field that will help countless find relief and cure for their illnesses. The screening of unborn babies for disease and investigation of possible cures for illnesses such as cancer and AIDS are possible due to progress in the biochemical understanding of disease. Reseach has to produce advance knowledge in diverse domains such as human genetics, pharmacology, agricultural and environmental science and we will see more and more contributions from biochemistry to society in making this world a better place to live in.

A Degree in Biochemistry

Biochemistry is a usually a three-year degree course. In most degree programs, students will need to study the following courses :

  • biophysical techniques
  • bioorganic chemistry
  • enzymes and nutrition
  • physiology
  • statistical methodology
  • biopolymers
  • microbiology
  • cell biology
  • molecular biology
  • immunology and biotechnology

Some degree courses offer specialisation which may include areas such as cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemical methods

A Career as a Biochemist

From the view of career prospects, the employment opportunities of biochemists have shown considerable improvement over the past years and the field is expanding.

Upon graduation, students with a biochemistry degree can work in a diverse fields including agriculture, medicine and biotechnology. Biochemistry graduates are also employed in laboratory researcher in the area of biotechnology, antibiotics, molecular genetics, DNA analysis, and toxicological and environmental testing. Indeed, there are many jobs available at both government and private medical institutions and hospitals engaged in research activities. Below is a list of potential jobs in biochemistry:

  • Researcher in Genetics
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Biotechnology & forensic science
  • Food and beverages industry
  • Agrochemical companies
  • Chemical manufacturing companies
  • Drug manufacturing companies
  • Cosmetics industry
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Lecturer or researcher in universities and colleges

Personal skills and characteristics of a successful biochemist

Aspirants for this field must have:

  • An inquisitive mind
  • Tenacity, perseverance and patient
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work well with others as working in teams is commonplace
  • Very strong in analysis and synthesis
  • Observant

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