Biochemistry is the professional meeting point of chemistry and biology. It focuses on the chemical processes that happen naturally within living organisms – trying to solve biological problems through understanding chemical properties.
Biochemists can study across a wide range of organisms including humans, animals, plants, viruses, and bacteria. They can study and monitor “normal” chemical processes as well as observing how these processes are changed by a disease state or intervention. They may also be tasked with trying to change some chemical processes to produce an alternative output.
Generally, Biochemists are working to optimize positive characteristics and decrease negative characteristics across a specific organism.
If working in an industry (such as food, biotechnology, medical diagnostics or laboratory services), Biochemists are typically working towards optimization of a product.
The specific tasks of a Biochemist will depend upon their area of study or expertise. Typically involved in research or development, tasks may include:
- Planning experiments
- Developing new tools or equipment as necessary
- Conducting experiments
- Close adherence to both internal SOPs and relevant external regulations
- Troubleshooting problems with laboratory equipment
- Monitoring and recording experimental results
- Analysis of results and writing of reports
- Presentation of research findings
- Management or supervision of junior laboratory staff
Biochemists can also be involved in a production or manufacturing team within certain highly regulated industries such as diagnostics or biotechnology. In this type of role, biochemists will typically sit within the quality department. Tasks might include:
- Monitoring certain parts of a manufacturing process
- Providing specialist quality control testing to a manufacturing team
- Testing of product safety and assuring adherence to predetermined standards
- Working closely with the manufacturing team members to solve any problems that arise
This is an extremely important function within highly regulated industries as their work confirms the safety, effectiveness, and reliability of a product. If working in this sort of role, Biochemists might be required to follow specialist manufacturing guidelines such as wearing personal protective equipment within a cleanroom environment.