Disclosure: Open Education Online may be compensated by course providers.

Biochemistry VS Organic Chemistry: What’s the Difference?

Anything that is designated as “science” leads to considerable confusion in a particular part of the society that does not have general knowledge in scientific fields. Unfortunately, lots of people believe that it is entirely unnecessary to study scientific subjects since only scientists are required to have an understanding of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, or related disciplines.

However, each and every individual must have a general knowledge of these subjects to a certain degree. Even though it is not noticeable at first glance, every process in our everyday lives is governed by varying scientific principles. Therefore, it is quite handy to have a basic idea of how the environment that we live in works.

The fact that people lack the understanding of particular terms, concepts, and ideas related to science leads to some misconceptions about different scientific areas. For instance, a vast majority of people consider that Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry are almost similar disciplines.

Nevertheless, Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry are entirely different disciplines that aim to achieve distinct goals. Therefore, this article provides major similarities and differences between the two subject fields.


Biochemistry is the scientific field that explores all chemical processes occurring in and related to any living organism. Biochemistry, as you may have already guessed from the term, is the discipline that connects Biology and Chemistry to solve various biochemical issues. Simply saying, Biochemistry is considered as the scientific area exploring the “chemistry of life.”

As a laboratory-based science, Biochemistry represents an essential tool for the development and enhancement of the quality of life through experimental and methodological advancements. Due to its enormous impact on the quality of life, Biochemistry is considered as one of the most influential and critical areas of science.

Since Biochemistry is a quite broad discipline, it incorporates various concepts and ideas from other branches of science, including Chemistry (General, Analytical, Inorganic, and Organic Chemistry), Biology, and Physics. Therefore, the topics that Biochemistry covers are also very comprehensive. Moreover, Biochemistry is appreciated in a wide variety of fields such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Research, Engineering, and Manufacturing. Thus, topics and concepts that that Biochemistry examines are utterly dependent upon the specific field.

Generally speaking, there are lots of issues that are relevant to each field that utilizes Biochemical principles. Thus, the list of general topics that are essential for every branch of Biochemistry is provided below:

  • Introduction:
    1. Chemistry of Life
    2. Water
  • Biomolecules:
    1. Nucleotides, Nucleic Acids, and Genetic Information;
    2. Amino Acids;
    3. Proteins: Primary and 3D Structures; Protein Function: Myoglobin, Hemoglobin, Muscle Contraction, and Antibodies;
    4. Carbohydrates;
    5. Lipids and Biological Membranes;
    6. Membrane Transport.
  • Enzymes:
    1. Enzymatic Catalysis;
    2. Enzyme Kinetics, Inhibition, and Control;
    3. Biochemical Signaling.
  • Metabolism:
    1. Introduction to Metabolism;
    2. Glucose Catabolism;
    3. Glycogen Metabolism and Gluconeogenesis;
    4. Citric Acid Cycle;
    5. Electron Transport and Oxidative Phosphorylation;
    6. Photosynthesis;
    7. Lipid Metabolism;
    8. Amino Acid Metabolism;
    9. Mammalian Fuel Metabolism.
  • Gene Expression and Replication:
    1. Nucleotide Metabolism;
    2. Nucleic Acid Structure;
    3. DNA Replication, Repair, and Recombination;
    4. Transcription and RNA Processing;
    5. Protein Synthesis;
    6. Regulation of Gene Expression.

The general topics that are listed above are considered as fundamental concepts of Biochemistry that are essential for further understanding of different sub-disciplines, including but not limited to Metabolomics, Neurobiology, Reproductive Biochemistry, Genetics, Immunology, Enzymology, Pharmaceutical Biochemistry, Genetic Engineering, and Biotechnology.

Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry is one of the branches if Chemistry that studies the atomic structure, chemical properties, and reaction mechanisms of a wide variety of reactions involving organic chemicals. Organic Chemistry plays a crucial role in every aspect of our lives, including but not limited to clothing, food preservatives, TV and computer parts, and ink production. Moreover, Organic Chemistry makes it possible to synthesize new drugs, engineer molecules for different tools, and complement many other disciplines, including Biochemistry.

More specifically, Organic Chemistry is the science that studies compounds containing the element carbon (C). However, not every compound containing carbon is considered organic. Since carbon-containing compounds are fundamental to the structure of living organisms, Organic Chemistry is an essential discipline that can identify and explore a wide variety of issues related to our lives.

The following are the general topics that are studied in Organic Chemistry:

  • The Basics of Organic Chemistry;
  • Families of Carbon Compounds;
  • Acids and Bases;
  • Stereochemistry;
  • Nucleophilic Reactions;
  • Nomenclature and Conformations of Alkanes and Cycloalkanes;
  • Properties and Substitution Reactions of Alkenes and Alkynes;
  • Synthesis and Reactions of Alcohols and Ethers;
  • Aromatic Compounds and Reactions;
  • Synthesis and Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones;
  • Carboxylic Acids and Their Derivatives;
  • Synthesis and Reactions of Amines;
  • Carbohydrates;
  • Lipids;
  • Amino Acids and Proteins;
  • Nucleic Acids and Protein Synthesis;
  • Transition Metal Complexes;
  • Conjugated Unsaturated Systems;
  • Radical Reactions;
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS).

The topics that are listed above are specifically studied by Organic Chemistry, but they are also relevant for any other scientific field, including Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, and even Physics. The fact is that Organic Chemistry provides an in-depth examination of all organic compounds, their characteristics, and reaction mechanisms. On the other hand, disciplines that also utilize concepts related to organic compounds only implement the aspects of Organic Chemistry needed to understand a particular issue.

Similarities between Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry

Although Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry specialize in different scientific areas, there are several similarities between the two disciplines. Therefore, the major similarities are listed below:

  • Laboratory work is essential for both disciplines;
  • It is impossible to live and maintain the quality of life without both Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry;
  • Life revolves around both subjects;
  • Organic Chemistry is essential to understand a wide variety of Biochemical concepts and processes since organic compounds are present everywhere;
  • Organic Chemistry specializes in the synthesis of different compounds, including drugs which are essential for lots of Biochemical issues;
  • The goal of both disciplines is to achieve technological advancement and improve the quality of life.

Considering the list of concepts provided above, it can be stated that the main similarity between the two disciplines is that the studies that are conducted within Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry involve the same organic compounds. Thus, many of the concepts from Organic Chemistry are applied to Biochemical research to get proper results and advance the quality of life of a living organism.

Differences between Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry

Even though there are lots of similarities between Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry, they are very distinct disciplines specializing in contrasting areas of science.

The following are the principal differences between Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry:

  • Organic Chemistry studies the physical and chemical properties of organic molecules in order to utilize theoretical concepts and synthesize complex molecules found in nature;
  • Biochemistry emphasizes the importance of biomolecules with respect to various biological systems;
  • Even though Biochemistry primarily involves organic chemicals, Biochemists are interested in chemical properties and reaction mechanisms of such molecules only if they are connected to the functioning of a living organism in any way;
  • The main goal of Organic Chemistry is to synthesize organic molecules based on the physical and chemical characteristics and their interactions;
  • The main goal of Biochemistry is to use the knowledge of organic molecules to advance the understanding of how the chemistry of life works;
  • Biochemistry involves lots of biological concepts and principles, while Organic Chemistry does not consider how living organisms work in order to examine and identify specific characteristics and reaction mechanisms of organic compounds.


As we have already discussed major similarities and differences between Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry, it can be concluded that even though both disciplines involve particular organic chemicals, they specialize in different scientific areas. The main goal of both disciplines is to improve the quality of life but through different pathways. If Organic Chemistry aims to synthesize organic compounds that are crucial for a wide variety of fields, including but not limited to Agriculture, Engineering, and Food Sciences, Biochemistry intends to identify the linkage between the chemical compounds or processes and living organisms.

Despite the differences, the involvement of Organic Chemistry in Biochemistry is essential to identify and explain various biochemical processes, such as aging, cardiac arrest, or neural functioning. This is explained by the fact that Organic Chemistry deals with reaction mechanisms and syntheses of various organic molecules and Biochemistry applies these reactions to biological and chemical processes occurring in a living organism.

Since Biochemistry is a very broad discipline incorporating various branches of Chemistry, it requires the involvement of Organic Chemistry to completely understand the biological processes. On the other hand, it is not necessary to have specific background knowledge in Biochemistry to get the idea of how Organic Chemistry works.

To sum up, Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry are scientific fields that share some of the core ideas but deal with different issues through the implementation of different concepts and pathways. The main difference between the two disciplines remains the fact that Biochemistry involves living organisms, while Organic Chemistry simply deals with organic compounds, their properties and reaction mechanisms.

About Open Education Online

Open Education Online (OEO) is a platform for applicants, students and young professionals who seek accessible opportunities to study, learn and thrive in their professional careers and personal development.

Check Also

Top 5 Universities Offering Food Safety Courses

Access to safe food is a universal concern. The industrial processes employed in food production …