Biochemist

Research and Development

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Scientific or AnalyticSkill Level 5

Biochemists study the chemistry of living organisms to increase scientific knowledge and develop ways to apply this knowledge in areas such as medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science and manufacturing. Biochemistry provides a basis for all the life sciences. FutureGrowthModerate

Specialisations:

Clinical Biochemist
A clinical biochemist works in hospital laboratories where they study the chemical composition of various tissues and body fluids to assist in the study, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Industrial Biochemist
An industrial biochemist works in laboratories in analytical and research work, such as checking the purity of food and beverages, or the enzymic production of fuels from waste products through fermentation procedures.

Biochemist at workResearch Biochemist
A research biochemist works in laboratories in universities, biotechnology companies, and agricultural, medical and veterinary institutes. They study areas such as the metabolism, growth and reproduction of fungi, bacteria, plants and animals, as well as the organisation of viruses. They frequently use the latest genetic engineering and molecular-biological techniques.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • enjoy chemistry, biology and mathematics
  • able to think logically and analytically
  • able to work independently or as part of a team
  • creative and imaginative.

Duties and Tasks

Biochemists may perform the following tasks: Culturing cells

  • study the chemical processes which occur within individual cells
  • Studies the forms and structures of bodily organs and tissues by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination.
  • Investigates the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms.
  • Examines micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and their enzymes, and uses the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes.
  • study processes which involve whole organisms, such as digestion and growth
  • undertake detailed chemical analysis using sophisticated instruments and techniques
  • prepare, or supervise the preparation of, scientific reports and papers for journals based on observations and experiments.



Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a biochemist you usually have to complete a science or applied science degree at university with a major in biochemistry, environmental chemistry, molecular biology or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, mathematics and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas.

 

Did You Know ?

New understanding in biochemistry has enabled many advances in biotechnology such as the development of pharmaceutical drugs or methods for diagnosing disease.

Petri dish containing E.coli

It has also enabled genetic engineering, which can be used to produce biomolecules such as vaccines as well as to aid in
the treatment of genetic diseases.

Whichever way you look at it, biochemistry is at the very centre of the life sciences today.
(Source: BSc in Biochemistry, NUI, Galway)

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