There are two types of biochemistry departments available at the post-secondary level: research and teaching. The research programs are typically funded by government and outside granting agencies, providing opportunities to investigate specific functions or topics. These research projects are typically multi-year and involve a wide range of specialists, ranging from biologists to zoologists.
A biochemistry department that focuses on providing instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels is typically staffed with a range of professors and contract instructors. Sharing of knowledge and development of research skills are the primary focuses of these types of departments. Biochemistry classes are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. They are often required for a range of programs and may even be offered as a science elective for students in non-science programs.
The best biochemistry department includes a range of instructional opportunities, at many different levels. Biochemistry is a foundation science discipline, and a vibrant, growing department provides courses that appeal to a large number of students, spreading the knowledge to a broader community. Look for a department with an active outreach program, and it will have dedicated time and resources to expanding the access to this field.
A biochemistry department can be found in a wide range of universities, community colleges and career colleges. The field of biochemistry is dedicated to exploring the role of chemical reactions within biological systems. An excellent example of biochemistry in action is the discovery that stomach ulcers are caused by a specific bacteria in the stomach. Drugs that treat this bacterium cure stomach ulcers.
Research opportunities are critical to the continued success of a biochemistry department. When comparing departments, look at the number of grants awarded in the past two years, the total number of applications, and the number of consecutive research projects under way. Look at the breadth of topics in the published research, areas of specialization, and the quality of the work produced.
A biochemistry department teaches a combination of theory and practical skills. Take the time to ask questions and gain as much knowledge as possible. The best biochemistry department includes access to laboratory equipment and the ability to conduct experiments.
Research in the sciences is a very competitive industry and provides the funding necessary to advance the study of biochemistry. Grants and research funding is available from a wide range of national, international, commercial, charitable, and government-funded agencies and associations. The application requirements, time lines, areas of focus, and amount of funding vary widely.