What is Biochemistry? In the life sciences, all roads lead to Biochemistry. Sooner or later, every scientist who studies the living organisms that inhabit our planet will ask themselves the deceptively simple question: “How?” How does it carry out a particular process or perform a specific function? How can we prevent a disease or ameliorate its effects? How can we leverage their catalytic capabilities for our benefit? Biochemistry is the branch of the life sciences devoted to the identification and analysis of the structure, function, and mechanisms of action of the molecules of life. Whatever the organism, whatever the process, the role of the Biochemist is to bring to bear an arsenal of powerful chemical, spectroscopic, molecular genetic, computational and other techniques in order to understand biological mechanisms in complete molecular detail. The insights Biochemists provide into life processes at their most fundamental level not only help satisfy our curiosity about ourselves and the world in which we live, but provide the foundation for the development of new approaches to fighting disease, generating food and energy, healing our environment, etc.
How big is our department? The department is currently home to sixteen tenured or tenure track faculty, approximately sixteen other Ph.D. research scientists, a dozen research technicians, nine support staff, nearly thirty graduate students, and more than 600 undergraduate Biochemistry majors – making us one of the largest B.S. granting programs in the nation. Over the past four years, the members of our department have brought in an average of $3.9 million in grants and contracts from federal and private funding agencies and published an average of 44 research papers in refereed journals, along with numerous reviews, chapters, and a textbook.
We encourage you to explore this site to learn more about our department, its people, and its programs.
Congratulations! Phoebe Williams has been selected as the 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Student of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As part of a number of strategic moves to capitalize on research synergies at Fralin Life Science Institute and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute scientific director Christopher Barrett, a world authority in simulation science, will take the reins as the institute's executive director.