Biochemist

Biochemists study the chemical components and processes of living systems plants, insects, viruses, microorganisms, and mammals to explain how and why chemical reactions occur.

 

Sample of Reported Job Titles

Analytical Research Chemist, Chief Scientific Officer, Laboratory Director, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Scientist, Scientist

 

Summary

Biochemistry is applied to medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. In food science, biochemists research ways to develop abundant and inexpensive sources of nutritious foods, determine the chemical composition of foods, develop methods to extract nutrients from waste products, or invent ways to prolong the shelf life food products. In agriculture, biochemists study the interaction of herbicides with plants. They examine the structure-activity relationships of compounds, determine their ability to inhibit growth, and evaluate the toxicological effects on surrounding life.

Biochemistry spills over into pharmacology, physiology, microbiology, and clinical chemistry. In these areas, a biochemist may investigate the mechanism of a drug action; engage in viral research; conduct research pertaining to organ function; or use chemical concepts, procedures, and techniques to study the diagnosis and therapy of disease and the assessment of health.

Work in the field of biochemistry is often related to toxicology. Rogene Henderson, senior scientist and supervisor of the Biochemical Toxicology Group at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, does research to understand ways in which organic compounds in the body are changed by enzymes into toxic metabolites. Henderson focuses on determining the health effects of inhaled pollutants. She develops chemical analytical techniques to detect pollutants and their metabolites in body tissues and fluids, uses mathematics to describe the relationships between the air and body concentrations of these chemicals or their metabolites, and determines how these concentrations change with time.

 

Places of Employment

Colleges and universities employ the majority of biochemists as teachers or researchers in schools of arts and sciences, medicine, engineering, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and agriculture. The Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency are just a few of the government agencies that employ biochemists specializing in basic research analyzing food, drugs, air, water, waste, or animal tissue.

Industries that produce pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, foods, feeds, and consumer products also employ biochemists in research as well as in areas outside the lab such as marketing, management, science information, technical writing, and editing. Drug companies employ biochemists to research the causes of disease and to develop drugs to combat these diseases. Biotechnology companies employ biochemists in research quality control, clinical research, manufacturing, and information systems with applications to the environment, energy, human health care, agriculture, and animal health. Some biochemists work in hospitals.

 

Educational Requirements

Preparing for a career in this field requires earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry or chemistry with specialties in cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemical methods. A bachelor’s degree in biology with more emphasis on chemistry, physics, and mathematics than may be required of a biology major, coupled with a biochemistry course and lab work, will also provide a foundation for entering the field.

 

Median Salary 2017

$91,190

 

Want to know more?

American Chemical Society-Biochemist

 

Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

American Chemical Society

Biochemistry Professional Social Network LinkedIn Group

List of Professional Organizations

The Career Connector for Purdue College of Science Students & Alumni 

 

Get Experience

ACS Internships & Research Experiences

Research & Internship Listings

 

Find a Job

Biochemistry Jobs on LinkedIn

Pharma Jobs Biotech Life Sciences & Medical Devices LinkedIn Group

Job Search Sites Related to Your Major

 

Information retrieved from ACS, http://www1.salary.com/Biochemist-I-Salary.html

Purdue University College of Science, 150 N. University St, West Lafayette, IN 47907 • Phone: (765) 494-1729, Fax: (765) 494-1736

Student Advising Office: (765) 494-1771, Fax: (765) 496-3015 • Science IT, (765) 494-4488

© 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact the College of Science Webmaster.