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What is Biochemical Research?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for All The Science, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By MrsPramm — On Dec 10, 2014

@clintflint - It is a very good subject to minor in if you're taking any kind of biology, zoology or ecology related majors.

But it is chemistry, so you do have to have the ability to do well in chemistry courses.

I always understood that it was important, and why it was important, but I could never wrap my head around chemistry the way I could around ecological systems so I only took the bare minimum.

Also biochemistry research projects are going to be very much based in the laboratory, so anyone who wants to work with animals is going to have to be prepared to work with them under a microscope or mixed with other chemicals.

By clintflint — On Dec 09, 2014

@browncoat - Biochemical research is probably one of the easiest subjects to find grants for as well, since it can be applied to so many different applications. It's something I would encourage anyone who has the aptitude to study at university, just because it's so versatile and useful.

By browncoat — On Dec 08, 2014

I hated this topic at high school, but it became more interesting once I got to university. It was always a prerequisite for the courses I wanted to take in animal behavior, but I ended up finding this more interesting than what I was originally going to take.

I think it might have been because at high school we weren't really learning why any of this mattered, but just basically memorizing facts. An isolated fact isn't that interesting to me, but learning about the wider connections between biochemistry and how it affects behavior and health can be quite fascinating.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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