Biochemistry

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As its name implies Biochemistry is the science concerned with the chemical component of living cells (Bio) and with the reactions and processes that they undergo (chemistry).  Biochemistry involves the study of the structure, organisation, and functions of living matter in molecular terms. It has a multidisciplinary nature that allows it to use results from many sciences to answer questions about the molecular and chemical nature of life processes.  These processes encompass organisms from the five kingdoms of life: bacteria, yeasts, plants, fungi and animals.  It answers questions varying form topics in food sciences to those in medical sciences. Historically, it has progressed from basic research on proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, through the elucidation of many metabolic pathways to the exciting and complex world of molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology.

The main objective of biochemistry is the complete understanding at the molecular level of all the chemical processes associated with life.  To achieve this objective, Biochemists have sought to understand the numerous molecules found within a cell, determine their structures and analyse how they function.  Most often, a change in the biochemical function of a molecule is directly related to a change in structure of that molecule or in the metabolic pathway in which that molecule functions.  All diseases, for example, are manifestations of abnormal biochemical processes.  Biochemists have used this structure/function relationship to the advantage of mankind by improving processes for the manufacture of many industrially important compounds. 

To conclude, anything more than a superficial comprehension of life, in all of its diversity, demands knowledge of biochemistry.

Knowledge of Biochemistry is essential to all Life Sciences.  The scope of biochemistry is very wide and includes studies in microorganisms, plants, insects, fish, birds, mammals and human beings.  Many workers in microbiology, chemistry, zoology, botany and physiology employ biochemical approaches almost exclusively.  These relationships are not surprising, because all life depends on biochemical processes.  To be more specific, the study of body functions (physiology) overlaps directly with biochemistry; immunology employs numerous biochemical techniques; genetic variability within plant and animal breeds relies on biochemistry, as does pharmacology, toxicology and forensic science.  A basic comprehension of biochemistry and its applications is thus a powerful tool to have for anyone entering into a field of Molecular and Life Sciences.

Why study biochemistry at the University of Limpopo?
The discipline of Biochemistry at the University of Limpopo was established more than twenty years ago.  Although still young compared to some other Biochemistry departments around the country, we have achieved both national and international recognition for our research and teaching.  The staff is well qualified and dedicated to the task of educating graduates in this interesting field.  Graduate students have found many opportunities to further their studies at UL, and at other national and international universities.  At a national level, Biochemistry at the University of Limpopo has established links with the University of Pretoria, The University of the Free State, and the University of the Western Cape.   International links have been established with the University of Calgary, Canada and the University of Kentucky, USA.  Furthermore, we have modern laboratories which are well equipped for modern research.

Anyone doing a BSc degree, and is interested in chemistry and biology can take it as a major subject.  Biochemistry is a service course in Agriculture, and plays an important role in the Health Sciences.

Biochemistry is a two year major subject and can only be taken in the second year of study.
Entry assumptions for Biochemistry modules are: Chem101 and 102, or Chem 110 and 120.  Biology subjects such as BIOS 101, BIOS 102 and BIOS 103 will give students an added advantage.
Because Biochemistry is a diverse subject it can be taken together with many other science subjects, depending on your interests.  Subjects such as: Chemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Botany, Zoology and Environmental Health are good second majors to take with Biochemistry.

Career opportunities
These include:  Agriculture (Crop Sciences, Animal Sciences, Horticulture, Insecticides, Herbicides, Aquaculture), Environmental Sciences (Water purification, Forestry), Biotechnological Sciences (Food and Beverage industry), Health Sciences (Drug development, Medical Research), Pathological Sciences (Physiology, Microbiology), Biological Sciences (Zoology, Botany, Entomology) and Forensic Sciences