What’s it like to do a PhD in Biochemistry?
Doing a PhD in Biochemistry, you’ll develop wide-spread laboratory skills including protein purification, western blotting, chromatography, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The use of cutting-edge equipment such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is common in Biochemistry and consequently you’ll become proficient with these fine instruments.
Some typical research topics in Biochemistry include:
- Engineering enzymes for industry
- Characterising the structure and function of proteins
- Developing novel therapeutics
- Understanding the role of redox in a system or disease
- Investigation of a specific receptor
- Developing and optimising methods (such as NMR)
Day-to-day you’ll be in the laboratory performing experiments, writing up and analysing data from previous experiments and discussing your results and research plans with colleagues.
Biochemistry programmes are almost always advertised research projects, with the key aim pre-determined by the supervisor. Although the aim is set, you are still free to influence the direction of the project along the way. These advertised programmes usually come with full funding attached.
It is uncommon to propose your own research in Biochemistry as you must find a supervisor with research goals that overlap with your project, who also has adequate equipment for your experimental work, and you must find sufficient funding for bench and PhD fees.
Regardless of being funded or not, your PhD will end with a thesis of around 60,000 words, which contributes significantly to the knowledge of the field. To be awarded your PhD, you’ll then need to defend your thesis during your viva exam.