Biochemist Job Description
A biochemist is a scientist who studies the chemical processes that occur in living organisms. Biochemists explore the chemical events that causes biological phenomenon in living organisms to understand and explain them, and to help solve problems in health and food production.
A prospective biochemist should be interested in matters like how cells, organs and organisms chemically communicate within and among themselves, how they grow, develop and regulate the complex chemical events that occur within them, and how they protect themselves from pathogens.
A biochemist should be curious, analytical, methodical, patient and persistent, and have the ability to handle and operate scientific equipment. They also should also be able to communicate effectively and work well independently and in a team.
Famous biochemists include Carl Neuberg (coined the word “biochemistry”), Osward Avery (DNA study), Colin MacLeod (DNA study), Louis Pasteur (vaccine for rabies and anthrax), Eduard Buchner (fermentation process), and Wilhelm Kuhne (coined the term enzymes).
Pursue a career in biochemistry if you have aptitude for science and interest in studying the chemical processes that occur in living organisms.
What does a Biochemist do?
Biochemists may do some or all of the following:
- carry out research and establish facts about life on the molecular level
- study cell samples of animals and plants
- study the chemical makeup and chemical balance of living organisms
- use scientific equipment such as microscopes, centrifuges and computers
- study the effects of foreign bodies, such as diseases or vaccines, on living things
- perform tests and experiments to develop cure for diseases
- write scientific reports and papers for journals
- manage laboratory teams
- teach at colleges and universities
Where does a Biochemist work?
Places of work for biochemists include:
- Agribusiness Companies
- Biotechnology Firms
- Hospital Laboratories
- Pharmaceutical Companies
- Research Facilities
- Government agencies
- Colleges and universities
Biochemists may work normal office hours or flexible hours including evenings and weekends. They usually work in laboratories and offices, but some may work in the field collecting samples or performing field trials. They may also travel to other facilities for research.
Biochemists must follow safety procedures to avoid infections from dangerous chemicals and body fluids, when performing research and experiments.
What is Required to Become a Biochemist?
To become a biochemist, you will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in biochemistry or a related discipline. A PhD is required for administrative positions and to conduct independent research.
Secondary school students interested in becoming biochemists should take preparatory subjects such as English, biology, physics, chemistry, algebra, calculus, and statistics.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Physical chemistry
- Bioorganic or biophysical chemistry
- Molecular and cellular biology
A biochemist may specialize to become any of the following:
- Proteomicist – a scientist who studies proteomes and their functions
- Genomicist – a scientist who studies genes and their functions
- Neurobiologist - a scientist who studies the biology of the nervous system
- Neurochemist– a scientist who studies the chemistry of the nervous system
- Molecular Biologist - a scientist who studies biology at the molecular level
- Immunologist – a scientist who specializes in the field of immunology
- Biotechnologist- a scientist who specializes in the field of biotechnology
- Genetic Engineer - a scientist who uses technology to change the genetic makeup of cells
- Toxicologist – a scientist who studies poisons
- Enzymologist - a scientist who studies enzymes
- Bio-inorganic Chemist - a scientist who specializes in the field of bio-inorganic Chemistry
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Biochemists need to have:
- manual dexterity
- accuracy and precision
- creativity and innovation
- good eyesight
- good memory
- good hand-eye coordination
- good attention to detail
- good listening and communication skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- time-management and organizational skills
- observational skills
- math and computer skills
- the ability to work well independently and in a team
- the ability to work well under pressure and concentrate for long periods
- the ability to use scientific knowledge to solve problems
- knowledge of laboratory hazards and proper safety procedures
- knowledge of science policy
- knowledge of statistics, chemistry and biology
- knowledge of cells and organs, and the role of genes and proteins in living things
- knowledge of chemicals, poisons and molecules, and their effects on living things
Should I be a Biochemist?
Take our career test to find out if this career is ideal for you!
- Agricultural Scientist
If this is your profession and you would like to add to or amend any of the information on this page, then please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org