Biochemistry is the study of substances in living systems on the chemical and molecular level. The field is immensely interdisciplinary, encompassing multiple fields of biology, chemistry, and neuroscience. Biochemistry provides the link between cellular structure and function, involving the study of macromolecules, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids. Lastly, biochemistry is the study of chemical reactions, in which complex biomolecules are created in order to fuel cellular processes in a living system. Topics in biochemistry can be used in modern scientific technologies, such as gene manipulation, as well as in a clinical approach involving drug development.
When I started college, I had no clue what biochemistry was. I thought I wanted to be a biology major since I enjoyed some topics in AP biology in high school. I was fascinated by the metabolism unit and I didn’t understand why my classmates were so uninterested by the Krebs cycle. I have a distinct memory of me taking one of the AP biology tests and smiling during a question that asked for the different enzymes involved in digestion and for the varying digestive pathways for carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Essentially, I enjoyed topics in biology that were on the cellular level, or how I like to describe it, the stuff you can’t see. Thankfully, freshman year in college, I had an amazing advisor to save me and guide me in the right direction when she proclaimed that the aspects of biology that I enjoyed were in fact, biochemistry. Perhaps my advisor was a bit biased being a biochemist herself, but without her, I might have ended up biology major (yikes). Still not really having a clear definition of what biochemistry was, I freely agreed, not really knowing the extensive journey that is the biochemistry major. Aside from being interested in the topics of biochemistry, I chose this major because it involves a strong background in both fields of biology and chemistry, even though now as a senior, I would definitely view myself more as a chemist than a biologist. Furthermore, I chose this major because it’s challenging and honestly, most students are terrified of it. The biochemistry courses are definitely transformative, and they have motivated me to be the greatest scientist I can be.
Topics in biochemistry are definitely applicable to my life post-graduation. My plan is to be involved in some sort of biochemical or clinical research for a couple of years and then attend medical school to one day, be an oncologist. My interest in oncology completely relates to my passion for biochemistry because cancer cells arise from the failure of different chemical pathways. I am also fascinated by the new-targeted cancer therapies, such as immunotherapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors, whose functionalities all involve the manipulation of chemical pathways. When people ask me why I want to be an oncologist, I respond by saying “because cancer is so cool”, and I am immediate accompanied by weird and concern looks. I clarify by saying that I am fascinated by cancer and the way that cancer cells are able mutate and bypass molecular processes. The cancer field is always evolving and I am excited for a lifetime of learning. Just like the biochemistry major, the oncology field is challenging, and most likely feared by most, which only motivates me further.
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