If you are interested in biology, chemistry or technology, the fields of biochemistry or biotechnology may be wise career choices. However, you may wonder what are the differences between biochemistry and biotechnology? What kind of careers can you do with degrees in those areas? Even a student in a College of Art and Science can benefit from this information as these topics are studied there as well.
Biochemistry is the study of the chemical function of living organisms. This includes how living organisms function on a molecular level. Protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism are just a few examples of study in the area of biochemistry.
Students entering biological science, either in research or as caregivers in medical careers would have to complete some biochemistry classes. Majoring in biochemistry could lead to work in pharmacology, disease research, teaching, pharmaceutical or environmental sciences.
Understanding the structure of molecules and their interactions in humans, other animals and plants often leads to new discoveries in how living cells continue to produce energy, reproduce and proliferate in all types of environments that may or may not be changing. Some changes such as temperature will affect how living things adjust while other human induced changes such as oil spills or hunting can negatively affect some species and possibly destroy them. By continuing to study the metabolism of living organisms in the real world, people can learn how disease states affect not just one person or animal but its environment and progeny.
Mutations in the DNA of organisms, including humans, can lead to serious and deadly, or mild disease states. By studying how these traits are passed along and tracking their genetic locations, medical experts can predict, with accuracy, the likelihood of passing on genes for certain disease.
Biochemistry also includes how body systems work together at a molecular level. Molecules are the basic structure of all living organisms. Proteins, carbohydrates and sugars make up the very essence of all living cells. The grouping of molecules makes up the products of human, animal and plant cells.
Differentiation of cells allows organ systems to form and work in concert with the body to function. Functions such as cell synthesis, digestion and respiration are all very complex functions that are always functioning, even when at rest. The more scientists know how humans function, the more they can learn about preventing illness and harm to those cells.
Biotechnology is the use of living cells to assist in technological advances and production. Yeast, enzymes and mold allow for the manufacture of bread and cheese that help supply the world’s hungry with nutritious food. Biotechnology also enables, for example, farmers to grow food that is resistant to rot or devastation by insects. This allows for larger crops and more food.
In medicine, biotechnology has enabled scientists to create vaccinations by isolating viruses. It has also enabled them to produce various life saving medications by targeting not only diseased cells, but the chemicals that allow those diseased cells to multiply. This type of targeted treatment has been most useful in curing cancers.
Biotechnology has been utilized to clear oil spills, generate disease resistant crops, and make economies less dependent on petrochemicals for fuel.
Both biochemistry and biotechnology are challenging and interesting career choices for students that want to make a difference in the lives of others.