Biochemists explore the chemical events that underlie biological phenomena in living organisms. The knowledge that biochemists gain in their research provides a basic understanding of the workings of life forms. Frequently, that knowledge can be translated into products that benefit human health, consumers and agriculture. Laboratory research is at the heart of what most biochemists do.
A career in biochemistry can be both scientifically and financially rewarding. Universities, colleges, and medical or veterinary schools typically hire biochemists who spend part of their time as teachers and part as researchers. Agricultural and pharmaceutical industries hire biochemists to discover, develop, test, evaluate and market products that improve food production or that assure human or animal health. Biotechnology discovery firms also hire biochemists to use genetic engineering and the tools of modern molecular biology to help solve problems in health and food production.
Biochemists like to experiment and enjoy working in laboratories. They want to know how cells, organs and organisms chemically communicate within and among themselves. They want to know how organisms grow and develop, how they regulate the complex chemical events that occur within them, and how they protect themselves from pathogens. Our growing knowledge of the genome of many organisms has opened the door to entirely new approaches for exploring the protein products of an organism's genes, and the processes those proteins bring about.