SCI/2/1/2 - Department of Biochemistry - 1962-1965

Papers re the planning of Unit course for BSc Hon Biochemistry

Archive level description: Sub-series
Physical Description:1 item
Summary:Papers re the planning of Unit course for BSc Hon Biochemistry
Reference Number:SCI/2/1/2
Biographical/Administrative Information:

The University of Liverpool Department of Biochemistry is the oldest and one of the largest in the country. In February 1902, William Johnston, a Liverpool ship owner, gave £10,000 to University College, Liverpool, to found a Chair of Biochemistry. This was the first to be established in Britain (and the only one until 1912) in the first Department of Biochemistry in the country to be named as such.

The Council of the University College decided that the occupant of the new chair "be not expected to undertake teaching for the existing medical degree, but that he devote his time to teaching advanced students and original research."

Dr. Benjamin Moore was invited to be the first holder of the Johnston Chair from October 1902. William Johnston's generous donation also included £9,000 for a new building, and the Johnston Laboratory was opened in May 1903

Moore rapidly established an active research group and, in 1906, he founded the Biochemical Journal along with Edward Whitley as a private venture from what had by then become the new University of Liverpool. The journal was sold to the Biochemical Society in 1912. Moore also established the first Honours School of Biochemistry in the country in 1910.

Post second world war the science of biochemistry grew rapidly to become one of the basic 'life' sciences. Because of the growing scientific importance of this subject, it was transferred from the Faculty of Medicine to the Faculty of Science in 1962. In 1969, the Department of Biochemistry moved from the original Johnston Laboratory to the new Life Sciences Building on Crown St. The Johnston Laboratory building has now been refurbished and houses part of the School of Health Sciences, including Radiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. It is located at the back of the quadrangle behind the red brick Victoria Building.

Although the subject of Biochemistry is still very much to the fore in research and teaching in Liverpool, the Department itself did not survive as a separate unit to see its centenary. In 1996, it merged with the Department of Genetics and Microbiology and the Department of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology to form the multidisciplinary School of Biological Sciences, which currently occupies five separate buildings.

This information was taken from a website created by Prof. Alexander (Sandy) McLennan on the History of the Department of Biochemistry