What Is Biochemistry?

A 3D clay model of a nanodisc

At its most basic, biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes occurring in living matter. However, this simple definition encompasses an incredibly diverse field of research that touches nearly all aspects of our lives.

One of the most pressing issues in our society, environmental degradation, is being addressed by biochemists. A few examples of work currently being performed include improvements in the efficiency of photosynthesis to increase crop yields, bioremediation of polluted soils, development of new feed-stocks, chemistries for the production of biofuels, genetic mapping of ecosystems to monitor biodiversity, and methodologies for boosting biological capture of carbon. These and other biochemical technologies may play a crucial role in our efforts to find a sustainable means of living.

Perhaps the most obvious application of biochemistry in our everyday existence is in the field of health research. Biochemistry has been a key to our growing understanding of a myriad of health issues; from diabetes to arteriosclerosis to cancer.  The tools of biochemists have identified the gene, protein and pathway disruptions that lead to disease and, in many cases, point us to preventions, treatments or cures. From aspirin to interleukins, the treatment of human disease relies heavily on biochemistry.

Many other, less obvious, aspects of our society are also being altered and improved by biochemical research. Industry is being transformed as biological chemistry is being used to generate new materials with novel properties or to improve the efficiency of older processes. Law enforcement increasingly relies on biochemistry-based forensics to provide evidence in investigations. Archaeology is rapidly advancing as genetic and isotopic investigations of our ancestral remains are illuminating much of human history and pre-history.

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the role biochemistry plays in all our lives. No doubt many amazing and transformational discoveries lie ahead; we hope you choose to explore the many opportunities and possibility biochemistry offers!