We’re all just Chemistry

Careers in Chemistry

It is unsettling to know that every one of our thoughts and feelings is a series of chemical reactions in our brain. The brain, as we know, is a group of over 100 billion cells that communicate with each other by sending out chemical information from neuron to neuron. This transmission of signals is the basis of all daily functions, such as movement, thought, and speech. [1]  The brain is the most complex organ in the body and is often too difficult to fix. Neuroscience is devoted to studying this vital organ. Just like the object of study, neuroscience is divided into many divisions; one of these is neurochemistry, the study of the chemistry of the brain. Because really, the brain is just a giant, beautiful ball of chemistry.

Pure chemistry, people

Pure chemistry, people

Neurochemists study the chemistry of the brain and nervous system, and the processes within them. They look at the effects of chemical reactions on thoughts and behaviour, as well as studying the function of neurons and neurochemicals. They examine the impact of drugs and addiction on the brain and the chemistry behind certain diseases and emotional disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and depression. Many of these diseases are due to imbalances of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and it is up to neurochemists to develop medications to correct these imbalances. It is important to note, however, that as a neurochemist, you are not a doctor, or a neurologist. It is primarily a research based career, generally working for universities or government agencies.

Research is a major part of neurochemistry, and so, you must be able to communicate both your findings, and the findings of others. Science is about distributing knowledge, so you need to be able to find, and interpret information constantly. Often, neuroscientists will work in teams to conduct research. They also communicate with other research facilities. [5] Having experience with working in a lab and doing research is a prerequisite, as you must be able to work with technology to collect and analyze data. Neurochemists work to develop new technologies to improve the accuracy and efficiency of neural research.

If you wish to pursue this career, you must be prepared for a lot of school. Be realistic with yourself, the average salary of a neurochemist can vary from $45,000 to $85,000, [5] and it is generally around $61,000. You must realize, though, that you will not start as a neurochemist. Generally, a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and a doctorate are all required to become a neurochemist. [5] Master’s programs in science generally take two years to complete, while doctoral programs can take up to six years. [2] Schooling combines class work with research, while in some schools; students are encouraged to work together on projects. They might be required to teach undergraduate classes, and prove a thesis based on original research. A background in math, science, psychology and engineering are recommended and a master’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, and/or biomedical engineering is required. It can be tricky to find programs that specialize in neurochemistry; often schools group it with neurobiology.

Studying the brain is important, as this organ conducts all activity in the body. Looking back, the Egyptians thought the brain was useless and didn’t even preserve it for the afterlife. Imagine life without knowing where our thoughts come from. It would be impossible to cure certain diseases. The brain is a vast landscape that is constantly changing. Who knows what you will find there and even less, what the world will do with the information.


For more information/ bibliography:

On neurochemistry the career:

1. “Brain Chemistry (Neurochemistry.) Human Illnes.com. 2015. web. May 2015.

http://www.humanillnesses.com/Behavioral-Health-A-Br/Brain-Chemistry-Neurochemistry.html (really good site, explains neurochemistry and reactions in the brain

2. “About the International Society for Brain Chemistry.” ISN. 2012. Web. May, 2015.

https://www.neurochemistry.org/about/about-the-isn.html international society of neurochemistry

3. “Neuroscience Degree Program Information.” Study.com. 2015. web. May, 2015.

http://study.com/articles/Neuroscience_Degree_Program_Information.html (very good site, look at it. It gives a lot of information on the schooling necessary to get into neuroscience.)

4. “Master’s Program in Neurochemistry with Molecular Neurobiology.” Stockholm University, Department of Neurochemistry.2015. web. May, 2015.

http://www.neurochem.su.se/english/education/master-s-program-in-neurochemistry-with-molecular-neurobiology-1.24725 (Department of neurochemistry, Stockholm University, describes requirements for getting into the program)

5. Hagerty, Sarah. “Careers – Neurochemist.” Prezi.com. 2010. Web. May, 2015.

https://prezi.com/ilycscoqpukz/careers-neurochemist/ (a Prezi about neurochemistry. I think it was written by a student though, so some information might be incorrect.)

6. “Average Neurochemistry Salaries.” Simply Hired.com. 2015. web. May 2015.

http://www.simplyhired.com/salaries-k-neurochemistry-jobs.html (says the average salary of a neurochemist and other related careers)

7. “Canadian Graduate Programs in Neuroscience.” Canadian Association for Neuroscience. 2014. web. May, 2015.

http://can-acn.org/canadian-graduate-programs-in-neuroscience (shows all the programs for neuroscience in Canada)

Other interesting facts about chemistry in your brain:

8. Sferios, Emanuel. “This is Your Brain on Ecstasy.” Dance Safe.org. 2014. web. May, 2015.

https://dancesafe.org/drug-information/ecstasy-slideshow/  (Good site about the effects of ecstasy addiction on the brain. Also describes how neurons communicate with each other)

9. Mastin, Luke. “Neurons and Synapses.” Human Memory. 2010. web. May, 2015.

http://www.human-memory.net/brain_neurons.html (Explains neurons and synapses)

10. Glaser, Judith E, Glaser, Richard D. “The Neurochemistry of Positive Conversations.” Harvard Business Review. 2014. Web. May, 2015.

https://hbr.org/2014/06/the-neurochemistry-of-positive-conversations/ this site explains the chemistry behind why negative conversations stay with you longer than positive ones

Then there’s always wikipedia, but of course, read at your own risk…  

11. “Neurochemistry.” Wikipedia. 2015. web. May, 2015.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurochemistry (about neurochemistry)

12. “Jordi Folch Pi.” Wikipedia. 2015. web May, 2015.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordi_Folch_Pi (this guys is a founder of neurochemistry.)


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