Biochemistry Definition

The study of biochemistry is concerned with the chemical reactions occurring within organisms. Both biology and chemistry are incorporated into it. During the early 20th century, biochemistry became a separate discipline. In addition to proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates, biochemists study enzymes and DNA, which are important in metabolism.

History of Biochemistry

Despite the fact that biochemistry has been researched for around 400 years, the term was only coined in 1903 by German chemist Carl Neuberg. Biochemistry began with the invention of the microscope by Robert Hooke in 1665. He observed cells under a microscope for the first time, but they were dead cells. Later, in 1674, Anton van Leeuwenhoek observed live plant cells under a microscope. 

Having seen cells for the first time, scientists were eager to study them and discover more about their processes. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make their own food from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight, releasing oxygen in the process. 

The French scientist Antoine Lavoisier proposed a mechanism to explain photosynthesis in the 18th Century. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is made in the mitochondria of the cell through the process of cell respiration.

During the 19th Century, it was believed that protoplasm, the jelly-like interior of the cell, was responsible for breaking down food molecules. It was believed that the chemistry of living organisms differed inherently from that of non-living ones. Eduard Buchner conducted an experiment in 1897 that changed this view. 

A yeast extract he called zymase was prepared by him. While zymase does not contain living yeast cells, it can still ferment glucose to produce carbon dioxide and ethanol. As a result of Buchner’s convention, enzymes were named according to the reaction they carried out, for example, DNA polymerase polymerizes DNA. The enzyme zymase was later found to be composed of multiple enzymes.

Further advancements were made in the 20th Century. During cellular respiration, glucose and oxygen are converted into ATP, carbon dioxide, and water by the citric acid cycle (also known as the Krebs cycle). From previous research by Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick identified DNA as the genetic material of the cell. 

Currently, newer technologies such as recombinant DNA, gene splicing, radioisotopic labeling, and electron microscopy are advancing scientific knowledge even further.

Biochemistry Research

Among the topics in biochemistry research are enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, the synthesis of proteins from DNA, RNA, and amino acids, and the metabolic processes of cells. Biochemistry is closely related to molecular biology, which studies biological molecules such as DNA, proteins, and other macromolecules. Techniques from other fields, such as immunology and physics, are often used to study biochemistry. 

From botany to molecular genetics to pharmacology, biochemistry is a broad science that studies all types of biology, including small molecules and chemical reactions. A focus is placed on chemical reactions in cells, but specific research topics can vary greatly. 

In addition to studying how cells divide and differentiate, cell communication, the chemical basis of genetic inheritance, or how diseases such as cancer spread, biochemists may also be interested in the chemical reactions occurring in the brain (thereby connecting biochemistry with neurochemistry).

Biochemistry Careers

The study of biochemistry is a laboratory science. The field of biochemistry requires individuals to be interested in conducting research and hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Many biochemists teach and direct research laboratories at universities; these positions require a PhD. Some biochemists with PhDs are academic lecturers and only teach at universities. To complete their PhD thesis, these biochemists also had to conduct research throughout graduate school. 

A master’s degree is required for some biochemists to work as lab managers. A bachelor’s degree can lead to a career as a scientific research technician. A person with more education will generally have more independence in a lab. Principal investigators design experiments and technicians carry out bench work. A lab manager may conduct independent research projects under the guidance of a principal investigator and has more responsibilities than a technician. 

As well as working in academia, biochemists also work in industry. In addition to working for government laboratories, they may also work for agricultural, pharmaceutical, public health, and biotechnology companies. There are others who provide specific services, such as toxicology and forensics.

To become a competent biochemist, one must be interested in biology or chemistry research as well as learn proper laboratory techniques and safety procedures. It is also important to have an aptitude for mathematics and statistics, as well as the ability to analyze the results of experiments. Designing experiments requires the ability to think outside the box and brainstorm new ideas. 

A biochemist should also keep up with the scientific literature by reading recent publications in scientific journals and attending conferences. As a result of hard work, training, and study, biochemists are able to uncover new information about the chemistry of living things and contribute to scientific advancements.

Biochemistry Major

As an undergraduate, students interested in becoming biochemists must take many science courses. It is essential to have a general understanding of both biology and chemistry. There are many schools that offer biochemistry as a major. 

After completing a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry, one can also become a biochemist, but they will need to have a good understanding of the subject they will not be majoring in; for example, an undergraduate majoring in biology needs to take chemistry courses (this is usually a requirement of all undergraduate biology majors), and an undergraduate majoring in chemistry needs to take biology courses as well. Students should also take specific biochemistry courses. Mathematics and physics are also important.


What is biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the scientific study of the chemical processes and substances that occur within living organisms. It explores the molecular mechanisms that underlie the functions of biological systems, such as metabolism, cellular respiration, and DNA replication.

What are some of the major areas of research in biochemistry?

Biochemistry encompasses a broad range of research areas, including enzyme kinetics, protein structure and function, molecular genetics, and metabolic pathways. It also includes the study of bioenergetics, lipid biochemistry, and molecular biology.

What techniques are used in biochemistry research?

Biochemistry research often involves a range of techniques, including protein purification and characterization, enzyme assays, chromatography, spectroscopy, and molecular biology methods such as DNA cloning and sequencing. Biochemists also use computer simulations and modeling to explore the behavior of biological systems at the molecular level.

What are some practical applications of biochemistry?

Biochemistry has many practical applications, including drug discovery and development, biotechnology, and medical research. It is used to understand and develop treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Biochemistry also plays a role in the development of new materials, such as biofuels and biodegradable plastics, and in the study of environmental issues such as climate change and pollution.

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