Biochemistry is a multidisciplinary field that combines the fields of biology and chemistry, often with physics and mathematics as well.
Biochemists often work in interdisciplinary teams with physiologists, pharmacologists, plant biologists, microbiologists, chemists, agronomists and other professionals. During laboratory research, they often supervise the work of technicians and technologists.
In general terms, biochemists study the chemistry of biological molecules to better understand events and processes such as how:
- living cells reproduce, acquire energy, grow and develop
- enzymes function (metabolism)
- gene regulation is controlled
- organisms adapt to stresses and disease.
Biochemists may specialize in areas such as:
- the chemistry of cellular processes such as metabolism, growth and aging
- the neurochemistry of the brain
- vitamins, DNA, RNA, hormones, enzymes and other proteins
- the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules
- the molecular basis of how the immune system functions
- mutations in organisms that lead to cancer and other diseases
- the way cells store and express genetic information
- the way genetic variations affect responses to drugs
- genetic engineering
- biochemical diagnostic tests
- recombinant DNA technology for the production of pharmaceutically and industrially useful proteins
- environmental analysis of air and water quality, and the interdisciplinary study of human impacts on the environment
- food testing and quality assurance
- the development of new foods and food additives, health and medicinal products
- nanotechnology and the use of molecular machines and enzymes from cells for industrial applications.
Biochemists in forensic science may specialize in the use of DNA fingerprinting techniques for identification purposes, or in the analysis of small molecular weight compounds such as alcohol and drugs. They may be called upon to give evidence in courts of law.