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Department of Biochemistry

Teaching Biochemistry

The years between 1914 and 1924 saw soaring numbers of students at the University of Cambridge (towards 500 per term). At this time there was no formal Biochemistry course in the University so the subject was studied within Part II Physiology. The 1920-1921 class included Malcolm Dixon and also Barbara Hopkins, one of Frederick Gowland Hopkins' two daughters. Joseph Needham was one of the class of 1921-1922.

In 1921, the University introduced degrees for women, encouraged no doubt by Hopkins who had always been a keen supporter of women in science, taking many women on in the Department by the early 1920s. His opinion clearly conflicted with that of the writer for Chemistry and Industry who observed that "It [the new institute] is probably too much the resort of women students, who cannot be expected to bring to the study of the subject that breadth and originality of outlook and the acute powers of observation that are essential to progress".

The Part II Biochemistry course was established in 1924.


H.W. Hall in the classroom in the Corn Exchange Street building, c1920.