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What does a biochemist do?

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Quick Answer

A biochemist conducts applied or basic research to develop life-improving products or study the chemical characteristics of living organisms. Biochemists typically work in laboratory teams performing scientific experiments and analysis.

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Full Answer

Biochemists are scientists that specialize in the chemical characteristics of living organisms and biological processes, such as heredity, growth and cell development. Many biochemists work in laboratory teams conducting scientific experiments and analysis using advanced technology, such as lasers, electron microscopes and complex computer modeling programs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Biochemists work in applied research solving known problems or basic research, which has no particular immediate application.

Applied research

Biochemists engaged in applied research develop life-improving products and processes. Some create tests used to detect genetic disorders and diseases while others develop new medications used to treat illnesses. Applied biochemists also work outside of medicine, for example, by investigating alternative energy sources, such as biofuels.

Basic research

Many biochemists working in basic research have the goal of expanding human knowledge because there is no known application of their research at the time of performing the experiments. Among other tasks, they study mutations in organisms, such as cancer cells, and the evolution and genetics of plants and animals in order to understand how traits carry through to successive generations.

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