Biochemistry describes and explores the molecular basis of living nature. Thematic and methodological overlaps exist with other disciplines, such as physiological chemistry, food chemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology, natural products chemistry or toxicology. For example, the collective field of molecular life sciences has established itself as the collective term for Molecular Life Sciences.
Biochemistry has made rapid progress in recent decades. More and more causes of disease and their molecular basis are understood. Methods and insights in biochemistry and molecular biology determine new developments in medicine, biotechnology, plant breeding & nutrition research. The structural understanding of biomolecules at the atomic level plays an increasingly important role.
Biochemists ask how living things or cells build or break down carbohydrates, fats, amino acids or hereditary molecules, and what amounts of energy are gained or consumed. They explore the structure and chemical composition of nucleic acids and the process of translating genetic information into physiological functions in a body cell.
They study how cell signaling works, which regulates the many metabolic pathways involved in breaking down and degrading, or how a fertilized egg can be used to create a complex organism with hundreds of different cell types. How does cancer develop? What causes death? How does our brain work? These are exciting questions whose answers biochemistry seeks on the molecular level.
Chemical knowledge and experimental competence play a key role here. Bioanalytics are refining modern separation and analysis methods, and technologies are increasingly penetrating into the single-molecule analysis. Tailored proteins are playing an increasingly important role in drug development alongside traditional substance libraries. Based on findings such as enzyme research, biochemists have the task of designing and synthesizing new biological agents with tailor-made properties.
Training in biochemistry
Is possible in several ways. In-Depth knowledge acquisition in biochemistry in the context of chemistry, biology or biotechnology studies can also be an alternative.
When taking up a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with profiling in biochemistry, it is advisable to take additional biological basic lectures and internships as well as an introductory lecture in biochemistry. To specialize, you enroll in a bachelor’s degree for a master’s degree in biochemistry, attend biochemistry lectures and complete biochemical internships.
It is advisable, after detailed consultation, to additionally attend lectures and internships, especially in molecular biology, biophysical chemistry, and biophysics, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, biomedicine or related subjects. Solid knowledge in bioinformatics is also increasingly important. The required and offered study content and its scope vary from university to university.
At a number of universities, training as a molecular biologist or biochemist in biology studies is possible, with specialization in the master’s program. Here conversely, in addition to lectures and courses in molecular biology and biochemistry, in particular knowledge in the branches of chemistry and biophysics should be made up and deepened.
An increasing number of universities offer their own biochemistry degree program. The program offers a cross-section between a chemical, biological, and some medical education and concludes – via the Bachelor – with the Master, mostly followed by a doctorate. An overview of the universities with the program Biochemistry is available in our university finder.
Some universities also offer additional special courses, in particular in the field of molecular biotechnology, molecular medicine, and medicinal chemistry. Despite medical references, these programs are usually affiliated with natural science faculties and lead to a master’s degree, which is usually followed by a scientific doctorate.
In general, life sciences, with their strong interdisciplinary implications, are not always clearly defined in the curriculum. Anyone who has chosen this area as a career choice can also successfully enter biochemical research through training in organic chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacy, physics or food chemistry. A suitable mix of appropriately trained professionals is increasingly being sought in the most strongly interdisciplinary research teams in science and industry.
Biochemistry as a career
The career opportunities in the field of biochemistry are diverse. If you want to stay in basic research, you can find a job at universities and research institutes. Especially in the border area to medicine, there is an increasing need for research. Biochemists are increasingly in demand in the clinical area.
In the industry, there are companies in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries that have a need for biochemistry graduates for applications in “red” biotechnology. “White” biotechnology is also on the upswing, with which chemical companies produce plastics and everyday chemicals with environmentally friendly processes or from renewable raw materials, creating many new jobs.
As biocatalytic processes are increasingly used in industrial applications, protein biochemists are increasingly needed who have learned how to deal with enzymes, antibodies or other proteins. There are also interesting opportunities in the areas of crop protection, nutrition and in consumer-related sectors such as the food and cosmetics industry.
Interesting perspectives arise in addition to the production of active ingredients in product development and marketing. The area of public relations and administration in public authorities, associations and research institutes is also playing an increasingly important role. In addition, leadership positions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in management consultancy and finance companies are being filled by life scientists.