Biochemical research combines elements of the study of chemistry and the study of biology. It is, therefore, research that involves, in some way, the chemistry of living things. More than just the component atoms and molecules or organisms, the field looks at how chemical substances behave in a living organism. It may also be called “biological chemistry.” Research may include identification and characterization of structures and processes; investigation of functions, causes, and effects; analysis of relationships other than cause and effect; attempts at synthesis and engineering, etc. There are different ways of characterizing the field of biochemistry and describing what biochemical research encompasses.
One way to divide the field of biochemical research is into four sections based on the main biopolymers: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates are compounds that contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, combined to form foodstuffs such as sugar and starch that are an important element of people’s and animals' diets. Lipids are organic compounds that are not water soluble and are stored in living organisms’ bodies for energy reserves. Proteins are macromolecules composed of amino acids, especially those that for an important component of human and animal diets, such as meat, eggs, fish, beans, dairy products, etc. One can see how important this categorization is to the field when you see journals named Carbohydrate Research, Journal of Lipid Research, The Protein Journal, and Nucleic Acids Research.
Other ways of dividing biochemistry research are manifested in academic plans for courses of study. Here, the cross-disciplinary nature of biochemistry as well as the cross-disciplinary possibilities of the field become obvious. Academic areas of specialization may not aim to give a complete map of the field in any one case, but they do help to see how crossing biochemistry with other disciplines yields a different view of the field.
Looking at several graduate programs in biochemistry, one finds that the biochemical research can be expressed in a variety of terms, often with a focus on biomedical research and food science. Examples of the first include areas such as Molecular Medicine, Biochemistry of Cancer, Neuroscience and Aging, Pharmacology, Toxicology, Stem Cell Development, and Immunochemistry. The second can include categories such as Enzymology, Nutrition and Metabolism; Food Toxicology; Wine-making Biochemistry; and Brewing Biochemistry.