The Department of Biochemistry is a member of the School of the Biological Sciences and is one of the largest departments in Cambridge, with an internationally competitive research programme. We have attracted many outstanding independent research fellows with funding from the Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, BBSRC and MRC, and several of our senior staff have been seconded to prestigious fellowships. The Department houses facilities funded by Wellcome Trust, BBSRC and MRC for modern biomolecular research, including an 800MHz NMR facility, modern X-ray laboratories, core facilities for mass spectrometry and plasmon resonance and advanced services for protein and nucleic acid sequencing. We have collaborated with the Department of Genetics in establishing the Systems Biology Centre, which houses array technologies, proteomics and informatics, and we have established metabolomics elsewhere in the Department. We also participate in the new Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research. These new developments underpin research in a range of different biological processes from molecular enzymology, through cell signalling and control of gene expression, to molecular microbiology, plant molecular biology and biofuel research, cancer and cardiovascular biology.
The undergraduate teaching programme is also changing and expanding. We continue to develop and improve our contributions to Part I of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos (MVST) and Natural Sciences Tripos (NST). Our third year, Part II, is a very popular option, and we were the first biological science department in Cambridge to introduce a Part III as a fourth year for biochemists. This has now been joined by Part III Systems Biology, a strongly inter-disciplinary course.
Our PhD training programmes now include include both three and four-year options; we have a careful monitoring of progress, and we offer many opportunities for both specialised training and learning transferable skills. Some PhD and Masters courses may be followed part-time.
The Department is located in two buildings located on Tennis Court Road. The Sanger Building on the Old Addenbrooke's site was opened formally in November 1997 by Fred Sanger. Contributions to the funding of the Sanger Building were generously donated by Peter and Paula Beckwith, by the Wolfson Foundation, by the Wellcome Trust and by many others. The original Hopkins Building on the Downing Site has also been almost fully refurbished.
The Department plays an increasing role in national activities. Members of the Department participate in committees of research councils and major funding charities. We engage in many research collaborations with multinational companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shell as well as smaller companies like Tripos Associates. Basic science discoveries find their way, often quite quickly, into many aspects of medical, agricultural and environmental research. Members of the Department have co-founded new companies including Biotica and Astex Technology.
Whatever our achievements in basic science and in making it useful, we will likely be judged nationally on other criteria. When asked what his most important discovery was, Sir Humphrey Davy said 'Michael Faraday'. Our most important contribution will surely be the young graduates and postgraduates who go on to play roles in many aspects of scientific research, industry, government and teaching.