Biochemistry – Field of study catalogue MU
“Life processes viewed through the glasses of chemistry”
This field is intended for students who wish to acquire the detailed knowledge and practical skills needed for the study of the molecular mechanisms of metabolic processes that take place in solution biological membranes and living cells, and during the various types of biochemical analysis (identification of biomolecular structures and analysis of their composition, continuous monitoring of substrates and products in ongoing enzyme reactions, or analysis using biological principles of detection). Experienced personnel at the Department of Biochemistry provide specialized instruction in the areas of metabolism of bacteria and fungi (aerobic respiration and identification, bacterial oxidation of sulfur-based materials, interaction of parasitical fungi with plants), structural and functional enzymology and biochemical analysis (development of new methods of separation, use of biosensors in measuring environmental pollutants, and clinically important metabolites). The palette is broadened through cooperation with the Research Institute for Veterinary Medicine in Brno (immuno-chemical methods, liposomes, vaccines, metabolic transformations of xenobiotics) and with several institutions abroad. The field of biochemistry is distinctive for its open and interdisciplinary character; classical biochemical methods are frequently combined with methodology from other disciplines such as microbiology, molecular biology, informatics, and bio-physics. This improves graduates’ adaptability and the ability to apply their skills. The goal of studies is to prepare highly-qualified personnel for research work in the field of biochemistry. During the initial period students attend selected lectures, and through consultation deepen and solidify the necessary theoretical foundations above and beyond the framework of the preceding master’s level. At the same time the student conducts independent literary research on the topic of his doctoral dissertation, during which the student should learn effective use of the databases currently available from the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, and Moravian Regional Library fund of books and journals, inter-library services, and in some cases direct communication with the authors of publications. The main activity of the students is their own experimental work, as well as active participation in the school’s research projects. However, students are also encouraged to independently prepare proposals for sub-projects, and to enter them in public competitions. They should be highly skilled in processing acquired data, and its interpretation and subsequent presentation in various forms (presentation at seminars and conferences, publications). Emphasis is placed on improving the ability to express one’s self in a foreign language, especially English (conferences, short study stays abroad).
After successfully completing his/her studies the graduate is able to:
- understand at an advanced level the biochemical basis of metabolism, biological energy conversion and functional regulation in various organisms;
- learn to interpret and critically review primary research articles in biochemistry;
- learn how to design experiments, critically analyze, logically interpret and evaluate the experimental data, thereby contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the field of biochemistry;
- be able to collaborate with other scientists, including people of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds;
- learn to communicate ideas, results and conclusions effectively to experts in the field through written reports/publications, visual and oral presentations;
- learn to explain the importance and relevance of own research to an audience of nonscientists;
- learn how to write a persuasive and realistic research project proposal;
- become an expert in a specific subfield of biochemistry.
The graduate will acquire general knowledge in all aspects of modern biochemistry, and deeper theoretical knowledge in currently-developing areas. He will gain experience with independent research planning in the competitive environment of the grant system, and evaluation of research results, including statistical analysis and the drawing of logical conclusions from observations performed. Graduates will be able to use the entire range of laboratory methods in bio-chemical experimentation on a cell and subcellular level, and master a number of techniques for instrumental analysis of biochemical samples. They will learn to use modern information technology to acquire and process scientific information from international electronic databases, to collect and process data using on-line equipment, to test the validity of models, and prepare their own effective graphic presentation. They will improve their abilities to communicate professionally in both the Czech and English languages in both spoken and written form. Studies are directed towards maximum adaptability in solving all kinds of conceptual issues and problems of both theoretical and applied character. Graduates may continue their academic career at universities and research institutions in the and abroad (for example, postdoctoral studies). They will be qualified for leadership positions in scientific research and development at private firms and biochemical laboratories at a broad range of institutions specializing in human or veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and bio-technology. The professional specialization of the majority of graduates is also compatible with further work in the field of environmental protection and with environmental movements and initiatives.
Doctoral studies may be in the regular form, or combined (for employed students). The regular form lasts 4 years , the combined form takes 8 years. Studies are conducted according to an individual study plan that sets the schedule of studies, academic and research activities involved in the dissertation work, and any possible study stays at other institutions, including those abroad, the extent of undergraduate teaching duties, dates for subject examinations, and other requirements. Yearly individual study plans are composed so as to realize the general study plan, with the agreement of the doctoral candidate’s advisor.
Fulfillment of the following conditions is mandatory:
1) Successful completion of elective subjects aimed at expanding knowledge in the general field, and deepening knowledge related to the dissertation work topic (20 credits). Within the individual study plan, and with the agreement of the advisor, subjects may be chosen from the curriculum offered by the chemistry department, other departments at the Faculty of Science, and from departments outside the faculty. Subjects may take the form of independent study with consultation. One of the subjects may consist of preparation of compilation of research sources on the topic of the dissertation work
2) Attendance of seminars in the field (together with students from the master’s fields in bio-chemistry) (16 credits)
3) Assistance in seminar and laboratory teaching in the bachelor’s and master’s programs under the guidance of designated teachers (20 credits)
4) At least one presentation in the English language before an academic audience (2-10 credits).
The course of study is completed by the oral examination. The first part (1 hr) focuses on three scientific topics known to the candidate in advance. The second part (1 hr) is the defense of doctoral dissertation. The dissertation has to be evaluated by two reviewers who typically also constitute two of the five members of the examination committee. To be admitted for the defense, the dissertation must contain the results published or accepted for publication. The preferred form is a set of publications or manuscripts accepted for publication dealing with the subject of dissertation, accompanied by a comprehensive introduction and commentary. In at least one of the publications the student must be the first author. At least three publications in peer-reviewed journals with impact factor are required; when the combined impact factor exceeds 4, the number of publications may be lower than three.