The most common biochemistry topics generally fall into the following categories: biochemistry of the living cell, metabolism, animal or plant organisms, molecular biochemistry, and genetics. Within each of these areas, biochemists concentrate on the study of the chemicals and biochemical processes that occur in living organisms. The study of an individual living cell is usually one of the most common biochemistry topics of all.
A key reason that biochemistry research often focuses on the chemistry of an individual cell is that there are many types of chemical processes that are common to living cells in a wide range of different organisms, both animals and plants. Cell biology is also known as cytology, and understanding the biochemistry of a cell underpins a very large proportion of the other biochemistry topics. An understanding of the similarities and differences that exist between different types of cells is usually very important to biochemists who study genetics, metabolism, and various areas of animal biochemistry, for example.
Some biochemists prefer to categorize biochemistry topics according to the fundamental underlying chemistry involved. Such a categorization might, for example, start with the basic topics of the structure of fats, the structure of proteins, and the structure of carbohydrates. Once the basic structure of the main molecules that are involved in biochemical processes has been understood, then more advanced study can explain the functions that the different molecules typically fulfill in a living cell.
Functional biochemistry topics could then follow on from the structural biochemistry or molecular biology topics. These could include such subjects as binding, or how different molecules interact with each other; transport, that is to say how molecules move into and out of living cells; kinetics, or chemical transformations; and signaling, or how living cells communicate with one another. A biochemist who studies via this route is likely to build up a good grounding in basic biochemistry that can then be used to branch into various different specialisms in a biochemistry career.
The different topics studied in a biochemistry lab can be very wide ranging. Understanding the basic building blocks of life, the individual living cells, forms the foundation for most if not all biochemistry job opportunities and may be regarded as the key starting point for a biochemistry career. With regard to biochemistry topics, there is also considerable overlap between biochemistry, molecular biology, and other fields of biological study.