What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is a field of study where biology and chemistry overlap. Biochemists study living things in the same way biologists would, but their attention is focused on the molecular level. The chemical techniques of purification and analysis are key to answering questions at this level.

At the core of biochemical investigation is the idea that understanding the structure and properties of these complex biomolecules will allow us to understand how they accomplish their specific roles in maintaining life. This is an effort that may even, at times, strive to answer questions about the very foundations of life.

Biochemistry at Luther uses a chemical lens to break down complex biological processes such as cellular respiration, protein folding, and DNA expression into underlying physical processes and molecular mechanisms. By emphasizing the factors driving interaction and competition between these underlying concepts, biochemistry at Luther has given me a true appreciation for the complexity of human systems and a curiosity to explore what is yet to be discovered!

Jack Jagielski '19

The biochemistry program at Luther prepares students for a number of careers in the field, as well as for medical or graduate school. We place an emphasis on teaching both basic and modern biochemical topics. We offer laboratory courses designed to train students in the technical skills they will need to be successful, and we work with them individually to foster critical, analytical, and independent thinking skills. Our graduates frequently contribute to the field by tackling emerging biological threats and by helping develop new products and cures for diseases.

Luther’s lab experience is unique because it’s taught during the January Term mini-semester. The hands-on instruction this month-long intensive provides allows students to experience everything involved in being a biochemist, including making their first buffer solutions, growing mammalian cells in culture, and designing fluorescence microscopy experiments to probe the results of genetic manipulations.

Biochemistry is one of the most exciting disciplines in science today, and it’s poised to make significant contributions to our lives in the near future. In the field of gene editing, for example, it’s biochemists who are working to develop ways of performing genetic manipulations safely and efficiently. Discoveries by biochemists promise to make advancements in health (disease prevention and cure) and the environment (protection and remediation), and the field holds important answers to questions about the roles our genetic code and the environment have in shaping our lives.

So if you’re struggling to decide between biology and chemistry, or if you see yourself working as a scientist in a role that makes a real difference, biochemistry may be the perfect choice for you.