Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Professor and Chair
Richard Eckert, PhD, MS
Biochemistry, including molecular biology and gene expression, seeks to understand the phenomena of biology in terms of molecular structure and interaction. It permeates all of modern biology and medicine and is a fundamental prerequisite to other medical sciences, particularly pharmacology, microbiology, cell biology, pathology and the clinical sciences.
The teaching goal of the department is to present a concise but comprehensive lecture-conference course including as major subjects: proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids, intermediary metabolism, energy production and utilization, chemical aspects of hormones, protein and nucleic acid biosynthesis, with general reference to cell and molecular biology and genetics.
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology faculty is involved in teaching the first-year blocks; Block IV-Cell and Molecular Biology, Block V-Neurosciences and Block VI-Functional Systems.
Undergraduate Medical Program
Cell and molecular biology courses are concentrated in a ten-week period in late fall of the freshman year. Activities include plenary lectures, small group conferences with problem-based learning, independent studies and a series of correlative medicine sessions to demonstrate the application of biochemistry to the understanding of human disorders.
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology also offers PhD programs, and a MD/PhD program. Classroom teaching for graduate students includes courses in introductory biochemistry and molecular biology, proteins and enzymes, biochemistry seminar, muscle: contractility and excitation-contracting coupling and advanced molecular biology. In addition, several professors are available as advisors for fulfillment of experimental theses in funded research laboratories.
Students interested in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology are encouraged to contact individual faculty members about opportunities for part-time or summer research. Limited funds have been made available to support part-time research assistants.
Faculty Research Interests
Research interests within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are numerous and include studies in membrane transport and membrane biochemistry, eukaryotic and prokaryotic molecular biology, virus assembly, enzymology, fluorescence and NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, calcium regulation mechanisms, receptor mechanisms, DNA damage/repair, as well as many others.
In addition to the individual research programs within the Department, several members of our faculty have collaborative research activities within the Greenebaum Cancer Center. The department is also widely recognized for its Center of Fluorescence Spectroscopy, directed by Dr. Lakowicz; the High Resolution NMR facility directed by Dr. David Weber, a training program in muscle biology directed by Dr. Martin Schneider, and an NIH Program Project entitled "Local Signals and Macromolecular Architecture in Heart" directed by Dr. Rogers. In addition, a new faculty member to the Department is currently working with the Greenebaum Cancer Center to set-up a State of the Art X-ray Crystallography Facility. Together with the NMR facility, they should provide a tremendous research resource not only to our faculty members but to the School of Medicine as well.