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About the Department of Biochemistry at Otago

biochemdept4_186pThe Otago University Department of Biochemistry is a teaching and research department located in the beautiful city of Dunedin, New Zealand. It is housed on campus grounds near the Water of Leith river and the University Registry building. The 23 research groups in the Department are led by academic staff members, and are made up of research staff and postgraduate students. Both research group leaders and specialised teaching staff contribute to the significant undergraduate teaching responsibilities of the Department.

The Department is one of five comprising the School of Biomedical Sciences (formerly the Otago School of Medical Sciences, OSMS), which in turn is part of the University of Otago Medical School. The Medical School is itself part of the Division of Health Sciences, one of the four academic divisions at the University.

Teaching at the Department of Biochemistry

Demonstrator teaching BIOC 192The Department teaches students studying Biochemistry as a subject for the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science and postgraduate degrees. Our staff make a large contribution to teaching the Genetics and Plant Biotechnology programmes, and as part of the Division of Health Sciences it contributes to the professional school courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Medical Laboratory Sciences, as well as the degree in Biomedical Sciences.

We pride ourselves on the academic care and advice our teaching fellows and professional practice fellows provide for our large "family" of undergraduate students.

The research groups in the Department mentor a large number of postgraduate students, who have a vibrant community within the Departmental framework. Collaboration is fostered by way of weekly Journal Clubs, fortnightly Postgraduate Colloquia, and regular Happy Hour get togethers.

Biochemistry research at Otago

Students with coomassie gelThe Department of Biochemistry is at the forefront of research and innovation in a diverse range of fields, including molecular biology, metabolism, genetics, structural biology, and bioinformatics. We study how life works at the molecular level, and use this knowledge to develop new technologies in medicine, biotechnology and agriculture. Research findings are published in high-impact journals and translated into commercial applications.

Department of Biochemistry facilities

Crystal X-rayThe Department is very well equipped. In addition to the specialist microscopes, chromatography systems, and analytical instruments that are the normal requirements of top flight research, it houses an X-ray crystallography suite and two service units. The Centre for Protein Research operates three different types of mass spectrometry systems, with a dedicated team to produce and analyse data, and the Otago Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility runs a high-throughput DNA sequencing and analysis service.

History of the Department

The Department of Biochemistry originated as part of the Department of Physiology in the University of Otago Medical School. Biochemistry was a rapidly-growing field, and in 1949 it split from Physiology to become an independent department with Norman Edson as inaugural professor.