Chair's Message


       Dr. Charles F.B. Holmes
Fittingly, the first course in Biochemistry at this University was given in the University Power House in 1916 and delivered by the famous biochemist James Bertram Collip who went on to become the founding Chair of the Department of Biochemistry in 1922.  Over the past 88 years the Department has flourished with the continual support of the Faculty of Medicine and University of Alberta.
With a firm grasp of its past achievements and future ambitions, the Department has epitomized the concept of “Daring to Discover” and continues to deliver in its mission of pioneering world class research, teaching and learning excellence in Alberta.
Recognizing that great academic institutions are built first and foremost on the excellence of its people, the Department cherishes innovative thinking, pioneering research of real gravitas and above all a collegial and supportive approach to its academic endeavour that is second to none.
Our faculty continues to publish their findings prolifically in first rate scientific journals and are highly sought after for international speaking engagements.  The Department recognizes that a key strength of the University of Alberta is the ability to marry excellent teaching and learning with world class research expertise.  The Department strives to be in the vanguard of the best and brightest approaches to scholarship and learning and is privileged to number seven faculty who are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada and a further two Fellows of the Royal Society (London).
The Department places student and postdoctoral fellow learning at the forefront of its mission.  A vibrant academy of 75 graduate students brings vitality and youthful endeavour to its halls.  Many of these students have won national and provincial scholarships and a significant number hail from all corners of the globe.  Further international experience is provided by an excellent group of postdoctoral fellows and our widely traveled faculty.  The Department therefore possesses a remarkable degree of international engagement and will exploit this to bring a new undergraduate research study abroad program to its undergraduate students in 2011.
The Department is a key member of the School of Molecular and Systems Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.  Alongside its sister departments in this School (Cell Biology, Pharmacology and Physiology), the Department aims to bring a dynamic curriculum of teaching and research to undergraduate students in all areas of biomedical sciences.  Our faculty have embraced and attained educational scholarship excellence and we actively encourage them to stay at the forefront of the very best approaches to undergraduate teaching.  Pivotal to this is our much sought after course in “wet lab” bench biochemistry.  Our undergraduate students have become keenly involved in the Department and 2010 sees an undergraduate student executive of no less than twelve volunteers!
Interdisciplinary approaches to science are fast becoming a key aspect of our research endeavour.  Our faculty participate in many Faculty-wide research groups and actively encourage involvement in “translational approaches” to our key biomedical discoveries.  The Department has developed state-of-the-art proteomics/genomics facilities through the Institute of Biomolecular Design (IBD) in the adjacent Katz Group Rexall Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research.  Additionally, the Department provides a fully stocked and comprehensive Biochemistry chemical and reagent store facility that provides many operating reagents at a moments notice.  A key objective of the next few years will be to advance and improve our core facilities, thus allowing our faculty to continue to “punch well above our weight” and further develop strong research synergy.
The Department is especially proud of its marvelous group of non-academic staff who expertly provide the backbone to our activities.  We consider all members of the Department as valuable members of our team and whilst the early years of this century have provided significant fiscal challenges, the Department has firmly hoisted the sails to catch the winds of change that are blowing through all aspects of university life.