Is love just a chemical reaction? How do drugs work? Why does our body need vitamins? If you want to answer these elementary questions, you have to deal with the smallest particles in our metabolism. Biochemists do nothing else: They study the chemical and physical structures and processes in living organisms. For example, they are researching how proteins and enzymes are composed and how the metabolism is organized and regulated. Your observations are not only useful for medicine. Biochemists make a decisive contribution to the advancement of biotechnology . Their findings are very useful, for example, in biological processes for generating energy.
The study of biochemistry
According to Mbakecheng, the subject of biochemistry is primarily composed of biology and chemistry . But the other subjects of the natural sciences also play an important role, because biochemistry also draws its knowledge from physics and mathematics . She draws further impulses from medicine and pharmacy . Accordingly, the basic course is quite “theory-heavy”, because the students first have to acquire the basic knowledge of the various areas . Only in the master’s degree and doctorate do you specialize, for example in molecular medicine or bioprocess engineering.
The Bachelor in Biochemistry usually lasts six semesters and is designed to be interdisciplinary . In the first semesters, students receive training in the basics of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. They also get the basic mathematical and physical knowledge required for their studies. Biology deals with topics such as genetics and cell biology and the structure and function of the metabolism of living things.
In the higher semesters, students then delve deeper into the field of biochemistry. For example, they deal with the chemistry of proteins and cells and the biochemistry of metabolism. Subjects such as pharmaceutical chemistry and genetic engineering are also on the curriculum. Those who pass all examinations will receive a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) at the end of their studies . In the rarest cases it stays that way. The bachelor ‘s programs in biochemistry are primarily intended as preparation for a subsequent master’s degree .
Not only for a scientific career, a master’s degree and possibly a subsequent doctorate are prerequisites for a later career in the field of biochemistry. Since the subject is very complex and extensive, a bachelor’s degree is usually not enough to start your career .
The master’s courses offer students the opportunity to further deepen their knowledge in the various sub-areas of biochemistry . Depending on the master’s program and university, you can choose from a variety of key subjects, such as biomedicine or biotechnology.
Studying biochemistry – requirements
In Germany, both universities and technical colleges offer the subject of biochemistry. The requirements for admission are not the same everywhere.
In any case, prospective biochemists should have a keen interest in fundamental relationships in the natural sciences . A penchant for solid biology and chemistry and a solid knowledge of mathematics are advantageous for the course. Since the research literature is often only available in English, a good command of English is also a prerequisite.
Professional fields for biochemists
Biochemistry plays a prominent role in medicine, pharmacy and biotechnology and the career opportunities are very good . The majority of all biochemistry graduates later work in research . Some remain loyal to the university. They conduct basic research in the university’s own laboratories and pass on their knowledge as specialist lecturers. But biochemists are also employed at state and private research institutes and in the research and development departments of chemical, pharmaceutical or biotechnological companies .
After some time in research, well-trained biochemists also take on management tasks in the areas of quality management, project management or marketing . More employers are state examination and supervisory authorities where biochemist example in the field of environmental protection work. Advisory activities are also possible, for example in patents or consulting.
Advantages of international experience
Like all research-intensive sciences, biochemistry thrives on international exchange. Many biochemists work together with colleagues from abroad during their professional lives. Scientific publications and lectures at meetings and conferences are almost exclusively in English.
A year abroad can significantly improve your English skills. In addition, you will gain experience with other teaching and learning methods and refine your scientific profile in the process . At the same time, you acquire intercultural skills that you need when you later work in an international team. Studying abroad also signals flexibility, assertiveness and organizational talent to the employer.