A degree in Biochemistry & Biomedical Research
Biochemistry studies the mechanism of biological systems involving chemical reactions that drive life.
Biomedical Research explores the literature, hypothesis development and experimental design to answer disease mechanism and treatment.
What is it about?
Biochemistry: the study focuses on the mechanism of biological systems, which often involve chemical reactions and the properties that drive life. The main modules include:
– Molecular Biology
However, you will often learn many other modules from a cell biology perspective including: genetics, cell signalling, and cell dynamics.
Biomedical research: a broad study that aims to understand the mechanisms of diseases and how to diagnose, treat and cure them. It focuses on learning about research, from developing theories from the literature to establishing experimental methodologies. Experiments can be carried out at any stage of understanding disease, such as investigating cell biology pathways that cause and prevent disease, or animal and clinical experiments on humans.
Skills you will learn
Degree / research skills (depends on how you specialize):
- Enzyme kinetics, Chemical units (molar concentrations, etc.)
- Laboratory techniques (Electrophoresis, spectrophotometry, PCR, protein purification, immunostaining, assays)
- Cell culture or animal models
- Excel (data analysis)
- GraphPad (biostatistics)
- R (general purpose – bioinformatics, statistics, modelling)
- ImageJ, Zeiss (image analysis)
- Protein modelling software
- Research skills: literature, hypothesis, methodology, interpretation of results, discussion and conclusion
- Scientific writing
- Team and presentation skills
Tips for taking this course
About yourself (my recommended traits)
- Be curious and passionate for biology and enjoy understanding the mechanisms how things work in general
- Study Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics and computer science are an advantage
- Get comfortable with problem solving, drawing processes, and memorising
- Feel comfortable writing because a lot of tests in cell biology courses will require you to elaborate mechanisms with scientific language; building the story for research needs, methodologies, key results, and conclusion
Preparation for university
You can learn some background about the field from the following resources:
- Get volunteer experiences through volunteer health service
- Laboratory experience in biochemistry is difficult to obtain due to experimental regulation. However, there are some summer programs such as Nuffield (UK)
- Introduction – Textbook of Biochemistry – For Medical Students, 6th Edition
- YouTube channels: Fundamentals of Biochemistry , Scishow , Minute Earth
- Publications: National Center for Biotechnology Information – Much of the world’s research is published here, it also has various tools (e.g. visualizing proteins, genes, etc.)
Healthcare will always be a relevant sector in the economy due to government support. You will be equipped with a strong scientific knowledge, which allows a very good development in scientific careers. If you are interested in non-scientific careers, your core skills will include basic data analysis, regression, writing and other skills according to your specialisation, and some knowledge of disease & healthcare sector. Transitions to other sectors may be more difficult due to niche of healthcare.
- Academic researcher
- Biochemist / Medical Chemist
- Pharmacology / Toxicology
- Drug development
- Forensic science
- Research in biofuels and biotechnology
Other related careers
- Health economics / epidemiology
- Medical Writer / Editor
- Medical Science Liaison
- Patent examiner
- Health and safety inspector
- Life Sciences Marketing
Overall it was a delightful experience, it was the most interesting career I could have chosen as I love understanding the precise mechanisms of life and disease. I would argue that transferrable skills are limited in terms of understanding other sectors, or how business works.
A lot of microscopy, immunostaining, and cell labelling to understand the mechanisms of Ca2 + flux in vascular smooth muscle cell contraction in CADASIL stroke disorder and pancreatic/liver cancer mechano-signalling.