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The history of biochemistry can be said to have started with the ancient Greeks who were interested in the composition and processes of life, although biochemistry as a specific scientific discipline has its beginning around the early 19th century.[1] Some argued that the beginning of biochemistry may have been the discovery of the first enzyme, diastase (today called amylase), in 1833 by Anselme Payen,[2] while others considered Eduard Buchner's first demonstration of a complex biochemical process alcoholic fermentation in cell-free extracts to be the birth of biochemistry.[3][4] Some might also point to the influential work of Justus von Liebig from 1842, Animal chemistry, or, Organic chemistry in its applications to physiology and pathology, which presented a chemical theory of

The history of biochemistry can be said to have started with the ancient Greeks who were interested in the composition and processes of life, although biochemistry as a specific scientific discipline has its beginning around the early 19th century.[1] Some argued that the beginning of biochemistry may have been the discovery of the first enzyme, diastase (today called amylase), in 1833 by Anselme Payen,[2] while others considered Eduard Buchner's first demonstration of a complex biochemical process alcoholic fermentation in cell-free extracts to be the birth of biochemistry.[3][4] Some might also point to the influential work of Justus von Liebig from 1842, Animal chemistry, or, Organic chemistry in its applications to physiology and pathology, which presented a chemical theory of metabolism,[1] or even earlier to the 18th century studies on fermentation and respiration by Antoine Lavoisier.[5][6]

The term “biochemistry” itself is derived from the combining form bio-, meaning "life", and chemistry. The word is first recorded in English in 1848,[7] while in 1877, Felix Hoppe-Seyler used the term (Biochemie in German) in the foreword to the first issue of Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (Journal of Physiological Chemistry) as a synonym for physiological chemistry and argued for the setting up of institutes dedicate to its studies.[8][9] Nevertheless, several sources cite German chemist Carl Neuberg as having coined the term for the new discipline in 1903,[10][11] and some credit it to Franz Hofmeister.[12]

The subject of study in biochemistry is the chemical processes in living organisms, and its history involves the discovery and understanding of the complex components of life and the elucidation of pathways of biochemical processes. Much of biochemistry deals with the structures and functions of cellular components such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and other biomolecules; their metabolic pathways and flow of chemical energy through metabolism; how biological molecules give rise to the processes that occur within living cells; it also focuses on the biochemical processes involved in the control of information flow through biochemical signalling, and how they relate to the functioning of whole organisms. Over the last 40 years the field has had success in explaining living processes such that now almost all areas of the life sciences from botany to medicine are engaged in biochemical research.

Among the vast number of different biomolecules, many are complex and large molecules (called polymers), which are composed of similar repeating subunits (called monomers). Each class of polymeric biomolecule has a different set of subunit types. For example, a protein is a polymer whose subunits are selected from a set of twenty or more amino acids, carbohydrates are formed from sugars known as monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides, lipids are formed from fatty acids and glycerols, and nucleic acids are formed from nucleotides. Biochemistry studies the chemical properties of important biological molecules, like proteins, and in particular the chemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. The biochemistry of cell metabolism and the endocrine system has been extensively described. Other areas of biochemistry include the genetic code (DNA, RNA), protein synthesis, cell membrane transport, and signal transduction.