Biochemistry: Definition And Explanation


Biochemistry is exciting and fascinating science, and this article will tell you everything you’ve been wanting to know about the field. We’ll give you the full biochemistry definition: the basics, the history, as well as the promising degrees and careers you can expect in the biochemist’s laboratory and beyond.


Biochemistry Definition


Biochemistry, or biological chemistry, is the branch of science that studies chemical and physicochemical processes within living organisms.


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What is Biochemistry?


As a combination of biology and chemistry, biochemistry studies the chemical substances and processes which occur within the biology of the body or any living organisms.


Biochemists study large molecules such as carbohydrates and proteins in relation to metabolism and other important processes within the body. Other molecules that biochemists may study include enzymes and DNA. These types of molecules are important for understanding the complex processes which occur in all living organisms.




History of Biochemistry


The term biochemistry was created by Carl Neuberg, a German chemist, in 1902. But the study itself has been around for over 400 years, essentially since the invention of the microscope in 1665 by Robert Hooke. The microscope made it possible to study cells.


In 1674, Anton van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe live plant cells under the microscope, which opened up many more possibilities than the dead cells which were being observed up until then. Live cells allowed scientists to observe chemical processes that occurred within and between them.


In the 18th century, a notable discovery in the field was made by the French scientist, Antoine Lavoisier, who proposed the concept of photosynthesis, a process in which plants convert water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into their nutrients. Lavoisier was also the first person to study cell respiration, which is the process of making the energy molecule in the cell’s mitochondria.


In the 20th century, DNA was acknowledged as the genetic material which made up the cell. This was established by James Watson and Francis Crick based on the research work of Rosalind Franklin.


Most recently, new technology continues to advance scientific studies in areas such as recombinant DNA, gene splicing, radioisotopic labeling, and electron microscopy.

Careers in Biochemistry


A career in biochemistry is recommended for those who enjoy research, as it is generally a career in laboratory science. Most careers in the field require at least a bachelor’s degree, such as a position as a laboratory technician. Other positions, such as laboratory managers or principal investigators of research, will require a master’s degree or a Ph.D.





Laboratory technicians engage in bench work and help perform experiments in the lab under the instruction of the principal investigators. Technicians need a bachelor’s degree in order to be qualified, but more education and research will allow for more independence in the lab.



Lab Manager


Lab managers carry more responsibility in the laboratory and may conduct independent research under the guidance of the principal investigator.





Though a master’s degree in the field will require an emphasis on research, a Ph.D. prepares biochemists for a career in independent research, principal investigators of research in laboratories, and lecturers in university.





There are also many industry positions available to biochemists. Biochemists may also work in governmental labs or for companies in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, public health, or biotechnology. Some biochemists may also work in services such as toxicology and forensics.


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Degrees in Biochemistry


As one may imagine, a contender for biochemistry needs to have a good understanding of both biology and chemistry. Some universities may offer a specific biochemistry track, or students can begin their education by taking a bachelor’s degree in either biology or chemistry, with a minor in the other.


Biochemists also need to have a good grasp of mathematics and statistics in order to conduct research. As students advance in their studies, they will begin to hone in on their particular interests.


Similar studies include health sciences, which offer courses in biology, anatomy, biostatistics, and disease prevention. Universities such as the University of the People (UoPeople) offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in health science completely online and tuition-free. The university also offers potential certificate programs in health science that can give one’s career the right boost.



Wrapping Up


As we’ve seen, the biochemistry definition includes a rich history and an exciting future for further discoveries. Since the invention of the microscope, biochemists have been investigating the complex, hidden world of cells and molecules.


Biochemistry is an exciting and constantly evolving field of science with an emphasis on research and laboratory technology. Different levels of education open up many opportunities for working in the field. If you have a passion for this science, then biochemistry may be a meaningful career choice for you.


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