What is Biochemistry??

In my opinion, to study biochemistry means to investigate the intersection between chemistry and biology. It involves the analysis of substances’ structures, compositions, and reactivities in biological settings.1 I think that the distinction between biochemistry and other fields including physiology, genetics, immunology, etc. is not always clear, but one of the main differences is that biochemistry has a greater emphasis on the chemistry portion. While physiology, genetics, and immunology focus largely on biological factors, biochemistry more narrowly focuses on chemicals and reactions involved in biological systems. I feel as though these different fields overlap significantly because biochemistry often looks at explaining the chemical how’s and why’s in each field. For instance, biochemists can study the chemical basis of heredity, which ties into genetics. The ACS College to Career Guide on Biological/Biochemistry states, “Biochemists interact with scientists from a wide variety of other disciplines, usually on problems that are a very small piece of a very complex system,” indicating this overlap.1

As a chemistry major, my academic studies have often times focused on chemical properties, interactions, and processes to form new substances without going into too much detail on their real-world applications. While I have learned a great deal on how substances are formed and how to analyze them, I feel as though I can greatly expand my knowledge on how this chemistry comes into play in real life systems, particularly the human body. Since I hope to become a dentist, it is important that I am able to take what I have learned from my major and apply it in a biological setting to understand why I am using the materials I am using and how they work. Additionally, if I decide to pursue dental research, having a basic understanding of chemicals/substances and their biological functions in the mouth would be very useful. For instance, understanding the chemical reactions involved in composite resin polymerization on the surface of teeth could help to find a way to minimize polymerization shrinkage to improve mechanical strength of composite fillings. Understanding how and why chemical reactions are occurring in the mouth has nearly infinite applications, including in diseases, dental materials, and nutrition. Thus, I believe that taking a biochemistry course will help me bridge the gap between the chemistry that I have learned and its importance in bodily functions, which will be especially important in dentistry and dental research that I may pursue.

 

References

  1. American Chemical Society. College to CareerL Biological/Biochemistry. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/careers/college-to-career/areas-of-chemistry/biological-biochemistry.html (accessed Jan 18, 2017).

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