Philosophy, Objectives and Scope
The Department of Biochemistry aims at producing graduate biochemists who are not only equipped with knowledge in all the modern aspects of the discipline, but are also aware of the particular needs of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general in the special areas. Thus the degree programme lays much emphasis on such locally important topics as nutrition and food science; the biochemistry of the soil and of locally significant microorganisms, plants and animals; biochemical aspects of disease; the biochemical basis of chemotherapy, including African traditional medicine; human biochemical genetics. In particular, the emphasis on making the student aware of the biochemical problems of his immediate environment is reflected in the inclusion of a ‘Research Project’ on a biochemical topic as one of the compulsory courses in the final year of every Biochemistry major.
There is an acute shortage of Biochemists at present to study the soils, fertilizers, feedstuffs, insecticides, plant and animal hormones, plant growth-regulators, herbicides, etc., particularly with special regard to the West African sub-region. Biochemical research workers are also needed for the provision of the basic biochemical knowledge which is lacking with regard to plant and animal nutrition and disease, the biochemical aspects of the germination, growth, repening and spoilage of fruits and crops, and several other such topics which are important to agriculture and veterinary science in West Africa.
There is also a desperate need for trained personnel to conduct studies on tropical products of economic significance (such as hide and skins, commercially important natural fibers, timbers, gums, resins and other forest products), with particular reference to the biochemical problems connected with their production, utilization, storage, biodeterioration, etc. Local industrial undertakings, particular those based on raw materials obtained from animal, plant and microbial sources (such as those industries concerned with foods, beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, ect.) are bound to need increasing numbers of biochemists in their product-development and quality –control laboratories.
Biochemistry graduates may choose careers in breweries; agricultural, industrial and medical research institutes; hospitals; and pharmaceutical companies; educational institutions (Secondary Schools and Technical Colleges). At the upper end of the academic spectrum there are openings; in Universities as lecturers from which the normal preparation would be a minimum of a second class honour degree. Our higher degree graduates are fulfilling this role now in several Nigerian universities. For B.Sc. holder there are jobs as research assistants (Normally for up to 3 years) in University. Another field of interest to biochemists is Forensic Science. Forensic laboratories in various parts of the country carry out chemical and biological test as a serve for the police to help in the detection of crime. There are also non-laboratory openings for biochemist with suitable training. Those interested in Business Administration have gone further to acquire the relevant training e.g. an MBA degree.
Most importantly, a biochemist is more adequately equipped (with his biochemical technology exposure) to employ himself and indeed others. The significance of this cannot be over-emphasized in the face of our current economic programme resulting in the high graduate unemployment now prevailing. Part of the solution to these problems lies in our technological advancement
It is the duty of the biochemist (whether in government-owned or private owned establishments) to check on the quality of processed/manufactured foods, beverages, drugs, cosmetics, plastics, etc. This quality control responsibility is most important since, with the proliferation of manufacturing industries, there is the attendant danger of uncertainty in the quality of the resulting products.