2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of a Department of Biochemistry at The University of Queensland. 

To mark this milestone, the School is hosting a special edition of its annual Biochemistry Alumni Lecture on 13 October at Hillstone St Lucia.  Former staff and alumni will reminisce with current staff and guests on the last 50 years, enjoy a historical photograpic display, a short talk by Professor Susan Hamilton and by former Head of School Emeritus Professor John de Jersey, and a lectuer by esteemed alumna, Professor Neva Haites OBE, of the University of Aberdeen.  Prof Haites's lecture will be entitled Ethical dilemmas and missed opportunities.

For more information about this function, visit UQ Events.

Information about past Biochemistry Alumni Lectures is here.

A short history of Biochemistry at UQ:

    • John Hines was the first biochemistry academic at UQ, appointed within the Department of Agriculture in 1928. 
    • Biochemistry later moved from the Faculty of Agriculture and operated as a division of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.
    • The Department of Biochemistry was created in December 1961.
    • The Biochemistry Building was completed in the second half of 1961 with Edwin Webb appointed as Foundation Professor of Biochemistry and Head of Department in August 1962.  
    • By 1965, there were eight academic staff and minutes of the staff meetings indicate that key concerns were the acquisition of new equipment, the allocation of technical staff support to the academic staff, and development of the curriculum.  Arrangements for departmental tea and biscuits also occupied discussion time in more than one meeting and led to the establishment of a Tea Committee!
    • In 1966 it was proposed that tutors be paid $4 per hour.
    • In 1967, UQ's Biochemistry Department won more funding from the Australian Research Grants Committee than any other Australian university biochemstry department, by a factor of almost two.   Around this time, Dr Zerner won a prestigious US National Institutes of Health grant for his work on the mechanism of action of hydrolytic enzymes. 
    The John Hines Building, first home of the Biochemistry Department, early 1960s

     

    • Through the 1960s to 1980s, successive professorial appointments established or consolidated various sub-disciplines within Biochemistry, notably enzymology, medical biochemistry, plant biochemistry, and molecular biology.
    • The scope of the Department of Biochemistry was expanded by the 1980s to explicitly include molecular biology and Professor John Mattick was appointed as the first Professor of Molecular Biology in 1988.  The Department strongly supported the establishment of the Centre for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, which went on to become the renowned Institute for Molecular Bioscience. Subsequently the Department sponsored, with Microbiology, the expansion of the Biotechnology Program.  Research covering a wide range of areas from biological chemistry to molecular cell biology blossomed during this period.
    • When the Molecular Biosciences Building was completed in two stages in 1991 and 1993, the then Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Parasistology transferred to it.  Small scale internal refurbishments have occurred since, increasing in number and size more recently. 
    The Molecular Biosciences Building, current home of Biochemistry at UQ.

     

    • In 1998, the departments of Microbiology and Parasitology combined.
    • The School of Molecular & Microbial Sciences was formed in 2001 by amalgamating the departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Microbiology & Parasistology - part of a UQ-wide rationalisation that saw more than 60 academic departments condensed into around 30 Schools.  Initially, heads of each of the three disciplines were appointed, but this was seen to be unnecessary by 2005.
    • In 2009, the School's name was changed to Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.
    • The modern era has seen increasing numbers and sophistication in the area of instrumentation (eg, mass spectrometry, NMR and proteomics) and increasing recognition of the need for professional non-academic staff.
    • During its  latest decade, the School has witnessed the creation within UQ of large research institutes such as the IMB, AIBN, QBI and Diamantina Institute and contributed expertise to these institutes as well as sharing in their success through strategic alliances. 
    • The School has consolidated its research into selected themes, participated in a major review and restructure of the BSc degree, taken ownership of Biotechnology programs, and introduced a postgraduate coursework program in Molecular Biology. 
    • It has experienced considerable success in the last 10-15 years commercialising intellectual property, with a number of spin-off companies and patents, and its staff have won good numbers of prestigious competitive research fellowships.
    • The School was last reviewed in 2005 and was commended on its support of first year students, the development of postgraduate coursework programs, its relations with industry and the professions, and its internationalisation.  At the beginning of its second decade, the School is recommitting to these areas and to links with its alumni.

 

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