• Question: Are there any science careers that involve both chemistry and biology?

    Asked by 959cara48 to Tim.M, Daniel, Priya, Michael, Krishnaa, Jo, Harriet, Hannah, Anna, Abid, , Devon, Dmitry, Heather, Jonathan, Rebecca, Richard, Sarah, Tim.S on 22 Jan 2018. This question was also asked by 786cara48.
    • Photo: Jo Nettleship

      Jo Nettleship answered on 22 Jan 2018:

      Yes indeed there are. I originally trained as a Chemist but am now involved in Structural Biology. One area is which involves both chemistry and biology is looking at enzymes and how they work. In this field, there are often people who both synthesise chemicals which are the starting materials or intermediates for the enzymes and so do chemistry, and also make the enzymes and study them which is usually classified more as biochemistry. The second part usually involves cloning (molecular biology), growth of cells (biology), protein purification (biochemistry), assay (biochemistry) and maybe solving a crystal structure (structural biology).
      For me, I use my chemistry training when I look at the kinetics of protein reactions and how chemicals bind to proteins.
      I hope this helps, and I’m sure there are lots of other areas where chemistry and biology overlap – for instance in the clean up of oil spills (a chemical for which researchers are looking at biological solutions).

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 22 Jan 2018:

      Chemistry runs through biology. Quite often its simple chemistry but you can specialise in chemical biology or biochemistry (I know they sound the same but you come from different angles to the problem. I work with chemical compounds as drugs that I add to the cells that I grow. Sometimes we make tiny gold footballs at almost a billionth of a metre in across. Or I measure light made by chemical reactions and I have to work out if I can mix two chemicals together. Even just making a mixture of salty water means I use chemistry every day. Of course there is also biophysics if you want to mix those subjects or bioenginering if you want to make a new heart. Thats why its important to be interested in science and take the best bits from each subject and understand the. The future may well be in mixed subject areas.

    • Photo: Hannah Tanner

      Hannah Tanner answered on 22 Jan 2018:

      Yes! Biochemistry is the study of the chemistry of living things. I work in a hospital laboratory so I’m most familiar with clinical biochemistry. There are various different staff working in the biochemistry lab like Healthcare Science Support Workers (HSSWs), Biomedical Scientists and Clinical Scientists. They work together as a team to investigate and measure things like different chemicals in blood to work out what might be making a patient sick.

      You can find out more here (click the links on this page to other similar jobs too): https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/healthcare-science/roles-healthcare-science/life-sciences/clinical-biochemistry

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 26 Sep 2018:

      Yes there is lots of overlap between the two! In my work as a neuroscientist we have to understand the chemistry of the brain when areas of it become activated. Also because I work with people who take lots of medications I also need to know how my study medication will interact with their medication, which is essentially pharmacology – a really nice combination of chemistry and biology.