Second-year PhD student Mary Casey prepares to run gels as part of her research on the MOV10 protein, which inhibits HCV and HIV, on Tuesday, in Stefan Sarafianos' biochemistry lab on Jan. 27, 2015. Casey, who completed her undergraduate degree at MU, said time flies when she's working in the lab.

Biochemists are the locksmiths of life science.  They use their imagination, ingenuity and understanding of the basics of living processes to unlock life’s mysteries.  By unraveling the complexities of nature, they improve the quality of life.  Biochemistry combines the tools of biology, chemistry and genetics to fight human disease, increase the production and quality of food, and protect the environment.  The knowledge acquired through the program prepares students for careers in many areas, including Medicine, Biotechnology, Agriculture and Government. 

Premedical Track Students interested in a medical career may choose from a variety of science-based majors. The most common choice of students is biochemistry because it is a collaborative program between CAFNR and the School of Medicine. The Biochemistry degree provides excellent preparation for the intellectual demands of the medical profession.  This training includes, as part of the degree requirements, all of the science courses necessary for application to medical school or related professional fields.  Many graduates of this program matriculate at medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy or optometry schools. 

In Biotechnology, some of the nation’s largest and most respected private biotechnology companies, such as Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, employ biochemists in a wide range of specialties, including molecular biology, genetics engineering, pharmaceutical development and microbiology.  Many graduates have chosen to pursue Masters or Doctoral degrees at major research institutions across the country. Some have been selected for internships at National Institute of Health and others have earned National Science Foundation Pre-Doctoral Awards. 

In Agriculture, biochemists find employment with agricultural industry companies such as Cargill, Bayer (Monsanto), and Novartis.  They may work on projects to develop new varieties of crops that resist drought and insects, produce pharmaceutical compounds, or tolerate herbicide application.  

In Government, state and federal agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Energy and the Missouri Department of Agriculture employ biochemists in many fields.  They might research biological alternatives for reclaiming sites contaminated with radioactive material or search for ways to protect against food-borne pathogens. 

Photo from Mizzou Creative