Virginia Ph.D. in Biochemistry Doctorate Programs
Find Doctorate Programs in Biochemistry such as Ph.D. Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, or a Doctorate, Cell and Molecular Biology Doctorate, and Biochemistry and Biophysics Ph.D.s below.
Biochemistry is a vibrant, dynamic discipline that embraces the study of biology from the point of view of chemistry. Historically, biochemistry evolved as a distinct field from two separate sources: agriculture, which required understanding of plant and animal metabolism to increase crop and animal productivity, and medicine, which required understanding of human metabolism to prevent and cure disease. Today, biochemistry graduate curriculums are at the forefront of many careers that help to keep human, animals and plants free of disease.
Biochemistry Ph.D. Coursework
Students of biochemistry Ph.D. programs can choose one of many biochemistry concentrations. They learn that biochemistry is the foundation upon which humans have grown to understand biological processes. Biochemistry courses focus on helping equip students with the skills they need to contribute to the many advances being made in medicine for both human and animals, as well as in genetic engineering, biotechnology and agriculture.
In recent years, the science of biochemistry has advanced as new technologies have enhanced research opportunities. Some exciting areas of biochemistry research include: structural biology (which uses the tools of X-ray crystallography and magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine three-dimensional structures of
macromolecules), biophysics (which uses the tools of physics to assess the detailed function of proteins and nucleic acids), genomics (which uses high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques to allow the total information content of a genome to be determined) and proteomics (which uses high
precision mass spectroscopy to identify the total protein content of a cell or an organelle).
Molecular biology is another popular biochemistry concentration. It evolved from a technique established solely to manipulate DNA, to a field that embraces all aspects of the function of nucleic acids in living organisms. Today, both molecular biology and biochemistry Ph.D students continue their highly interdisciplinary traditions of drawing from physics, chemistry and biology to understand the basic processes of life from the atomic, to the molecular, to the cellular levels.
Biochemistry Ph.D. students can expect to be required to use of mathematics and physical sciences to probe the tightly-held secrets of biology. Students might engage in coursework in bioenergetics, analytical biochemistry and enzyme kinetics. They will be required to do extensive research, as well as participate in laboratory rotations.
Almost all biochemistry curriculums at the Ph.D. level are research-oriented, as students are encouraged to move in their studies from classes to independent research. In recent years, biochemistry Ph.D. programs have also expanded to encompass business-oriented degrees, such as the professional science masters (PSM) that allow students to combine higher-level science classes with business classes.
Potential Careers for Ph.D. Biochemists
Biochemistry careers have traditionally been academic, including teaching and research appointments in colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, post-secondary teachers earned a median annual salary of $68,970 in 20121.
There might also be exciting biochemistry career opportunities in regulatory agencies in government, non-profit organizations and health care. The BLS reported that the 2012 median annual salary for biochemists and biophysicists was $81,480. A PhD degree in biochemistry is normally required in many of these careers, though it is still possible to find a position with a masters degree2.
There may also be potential career opportunities for biochemists in the pharmaceutical industry, or in bioengineering. In additon, with the introduction of business-oriented degrees such as the PSM, those who have an interest in biochemistry as well as business may have an opportunity to enter the business world as managers with a firm grasp of the science or technology of the companies for whom they will work.