Biochemists and Biophysicists

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About the Job

Study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.

It is also Called

  • Toxicologist
  • Staff Toxicologist
  • Scientist
  • Research Scientist
  • Research Associate
  • Research Assistant
  • Research Affiliate
  • Quality Control Associate (QC Associate)
  • Professor of Physics/Researcher in Biophysics
  • Physical Biochemist
View All

What They Do

  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • Research how characteristics of plants or animals are carried through successive generations.
  • Develop methods to process, store, or use foods, drugs, or chemical compounds.
  • Design or build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • Develop or test new drugs or medications intended for commercial distribution.
  • Research transformations of substances in cells, using atomic isotopes.
  • Examine the molecular or chemical aspects of immune system functioning.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: IAR.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Investigative interests, but also prefer Artistic and Realistic environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Recognition, but also value Achievement and Working Conditions in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Education Required

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).


In 2017, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $90,880 with most people making between $52,300 and $140,240


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 1,830 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 1,930 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 10 openings due to growth and about 50 replacement openings for approximately 60 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education