Studies & Degrees in Biochemistry
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Biochemistry Study Programs
For common people, digestion of food is regarded as a very simple bodily process, that is, food enters the mouth, goes down to the stomach and the feeling called hunger dies down as food fills up the stomach and that’s it. However, what many people are unaware of, from the moment food enters the mouth complex biochemical processes have already been initiated. The enzyme called amylase which is present in the saliva actually initiates the process of digestion chemically, and even aids in making starchy foods to taste a little bit sweeter by converting them to sugar. In plants, the process called photosynthesis is another complex biochemical process that starts from the moment sunlight touches its leaves. Biochemical processes are constantly present and happening among living organisms such as humans and plants and the field that investigates and studies chemical processes that happens among living organisms is called Biochemistry.
More specifically, Biochemistry takes a serious look on the structure and function, in particular but not limited to, cellular components like proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids among a host of biomolecules to be found in every living organism. Basically, these five macromolecules mentioned could sum up most of the components that are responsible for the chemical processes that takes place in a living being. Proteins represent the different groups of amino acids. Amino acids are very important especially in metabolism and nutrition. Amino acids are commonly used by food technologists, plastic makers and drug makers. Yes, it was biochemists that came up with biodegradable plastic polymers. Lipids, in general, are a broad group that includes fats, waxes, sterols and soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K). Usually, lipids are used in energy and signaling functions in terms of chemical reactions. The carbohydrate groups which include monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and deoxyoribose) are the ones that produce water internally through the process called dehydration synthesis. The nucleic acids are vital for biochemists because they are the key components of a DNA where genetic information is stored in all living organisms.
Biochemistry, in general, has contributed in a hundred various ways in man’s quest of a better life. As mentioned earlier, biochemists are to be credited for the biodegradable plastics now being widely used as a solution to environmental concerns over mounting garbage. In the pharmaceutical industry, superior drugs are being whipped up by biochemists as who better understands the chemicals happening inside the body. Biochemists are also on the forefront of technological breakthroughs in the field of genetics. Just recently, in 2006, Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello won Nobel Prize for discovering the important role of RNA interference. To the fans of the TV series “CSI,” it is noteworthy to know that Forensic Science came about due to Biochemistry as biochemists proved through DNA evidence in 1988 where the judge accepted these findings beyond reasonable doubt. Right now, Biochemistry has three branches namely: Plant Biochemistry, General Biochemistry (covers both plant and animals) and Human/Medical Biochemistry.
To those who want to dabble in biochemistry, don’t be surprised to come across highly technical terms like monomers, polymers, polypeptides, deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, cytosine and a host of other terms that one would only see in encyclopedias and science textbooks. Studying Biochemistry is like getting two degrees in one (biology and chemistry) so expect this course to be for those with above average IQs.