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Course profile: biochemistry

Biochemists study the molecular basis of diseases and this enables definitive diagnosis and development of cures.

delhi Updated: May 29, 2009 13:29 IST

Biochemistry is the study of the molecular processes that enable all living organisms to feed, grow, move and reproduce.

It bridges the biological sciences and chemistry and includes the study of proteins, DNA, lipids, hormones and other bio-molecules. It deals with the reactions by which molecules are synthesized and broken down and how these processes are regulated. It is a three-dimensional science that helps in better understanding of the shape and function of molecules.

Biochemistry has thousands of applications day to day, in medicine, drug design, nutrition, forensic science, agriculture and manufacturing. Discoveries and innovations in biochemistry have led to better drugs, better nutrition, improved health and increased understanding of how genes define a unique species.

One of the most stimulating and positive aspects of biochemistry is its increasing interaction with medicine.

Biochemists study the molecular basis of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and AIDS and this enables definitive diagnosis and development of cures.

Some of the universities offering degree course in the subject in India are — Bharathiar University (Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu); University of Delhi (Delhi); Goa University (Goa); Gujarat University (Ahmedabad, Gujarat); Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar, Punjab); Osmania University (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh); Punjab University (Chandigarh); University of Madras (Chennai, Tamil Nadu); University of Mumbai (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and University of Pune (Pune, Maharashtra).

Curriculum
In the first year students are taught papers like Physical Chemistry; Inorganic and Organic Chemistry; Physics; Mathematics & Statistics; Introduction to Biology and Chemistry of Biologically Important Molecules.

The second year includes Biochemical and Biophysical Techniques (Chromatography, Electrophoresis, Isoelectric Focusing, Centrifugation, Instrumental Methods, Radioisotopes in Biology, Applications and Precautions & Microbiology); Proteins, Enzymes & Coenzymes; Human Physiology & Endocrinology; Metabolism of Carbohydrates and Lipids; Metabolism of Amino Acids, Nucleotides & Porphyrins.

In the third year emphasis is on Molecular Biology-I & II (Genetics, DNA technology, gene expression, RNA, transcription and translation); Membrane Biochemistry & Bioenergetics; Cell Biology (structure & biogenesis of cell components, cell cycle, techniques) and Immunology.

Background required
Students should have strong mathematics, science, written and oral communication skills. Knowledge of statistics and computer analysis is beneficial. Most important is a passion for understanding the intricate details of living systems.

Future
The graduate programme opens door to a wide variety of career opportunities. The programme prepares students for the post of sales and technical representative for firms that deal in scientific equipment, pharmaceutical, food, agricultural chemicals and biotechnology products. MSc degree and later Ph. D can be pursued from different reputed institutes/universities in India or abroad. The subject provides a combined wealth of expertise that spans over agricultural, life sciences and biomedical domain.

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