Robert Horton horton at
Thu Oct 5 11:45:05 EST 1995

Async User (dyeisley at wrote: : ... : 1.  What does a
biochemist do? Biochemistry is sort of a cross between biology and
chemistry (surprise!). In other words, biochemists use chemistry to study
biological things. But the types of chemistry they use may be quite
specialized. For example, a biochemist may specialize in protein
chemistry, which may not involve any of the kinds of reactions normally
thought of as "chemistry" (chamical reactions involving covalent bonds
and/or "math").  Someone who does study "regular" chemistry going on in a
biological system might call him or herself a "biological chemist", just
to be sure nobody mistakes them for a biologist (egads!). Biochemists who
specialize in studying genes and DNA are usually called "molecular
biologists", unless they study the "chemistry" of DNA, in which case
they're still biochemists. These "real" biochemists sometimes say that the
molecular biologists are "practicing biochemistry without a license". 

: 2.  What schooling is required to become a biochemist?  number of years
:     of college, is an inernship required,  what courses in high school will
:     help me prepare to become a biochemist, etc.
If you do biochemistry, you can call yourself a biochemist. There is no 
law against it (don't try to call youself a "doctor", because thre 
may be laws against that). You don't REALLY need a license to practice 
biochemistry. To get a job is a different story. 

Personally, I went to college for four years, graduate school for six and 
a half years, I did a "post doctoral fellowship" for four and a half 
years, and I still don't have a "real" (i.e., permanent) job. Still, its 
better than working for a living. And I'm still not a "real" biochemist 
(just a molecular biologist).

: 3.  Where are jobs available for a biochemist?  location, types of businesses
:     that hire biochemists, pay scales, etc.
The basic types of jobs are in "industry" (working for a drug company or 
whatever) and "academic" (working at a university or college). 
Supposedly, industry jobs pay better, but academic jobs are more fun. 
I'll let you know when I start having fun.  :) As you might have guessed, 
my job is academic, or I probably wouldn't be allowed to sit at my 
computer in the middle of the day and write this letter.

: 4.  What other aspects of interest are there about being a biochemist?

You get to figure out how living thins work. What else would you want?
5.  Is there job security? :

: ... Also are there web pages
: that have information on biochemistry?  

Sure. Try:
	(this is the Mother of All Experimental Biology organizations)
	(they have a nice public-relations page on being a scientist)
	(see the ASBMB news)

: My email address is   dyeisley at
I'll post this to bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts, too, because I'm sure 
other people would love to disagree with some of the things I've said. :)
Good luck.

Robert M. Horton (PhD!) /\ "Crash programs fail because of the theory that
U of M Dermatology Dept || with nine women pregnant you get a baby a month"
Box 98 UMHC, 4-154 PWB /||\ -W. von Braun.   Disclaimer: "Bob who?"
Minneapolis, MN 55455   ^^   horton at       (612)625-8941

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