Would you like to know more about what it’s like to have a career in biochemistry? Watch this video with Professor Annalisa Pastore, a biochemist, to discover what it’s like to work in this area
What is biochemistry?
Biochemistry is the science that allows us to understand what each of the components of a cell do, and how they communicate with each other. Essentially, it is the chemistry of biology.
Many biochemists investigate the changes that take place in the body in the case of illnesses and medical conditions. For example, Professor Annalisa Pastore and her team are carrying out research into Friedrich’s Ataxia, a degenerative genetic disease that affects co-ordination, balance and speech.
Her team has identified the mechanism that triages this disease by solving the structure of the gene product responsible for this illness. By developing an understanding of what causes illnesses such as Friedrich’s Ataxia, Biochemists gain essential knowledge to help prevent, treat and ultimately cure these conditions.
I find biochemistry very exciting because it’s like detective work. We start with a protein we know nothing about, and then build up our knowledge step by step.'
After studying science subjects at school, including Biology and Chemistry, you should ideally study an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry or a related area such as Chemistry or Biomedical Science. If you want to become a researcher or university lecturer, you should then go on to studying a master’s degree and PhD in Chemistry.
In terms of skills, to be a good biochemist you must be determined and passionate about biological systems, with an interest in problem solving.
There are many career opportunities for people studying undergraduate programmes in Biochemistry. Many go on to study master’s degrees and PhDs and become academic research scientists. Others develop a variety of careers, including:
- graduate-entry medicine or dentistry
- working in industry for a large biotech company
- working in science or medical communication roles, such as in charities or health organisations
- editing scientific journals
- other professional or business careers, using the transferable skills gained in a science degree.
Find out more