History of the Department

By Robert A. Harris

 The roots of Biochemistry at Indiana University School of Medicine can be traced back to 1922 when the Department of Pharmacology, Materia Medica and Therapeutics was renamed the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology. The new Department had two members, Dr. Benjamin Bernard Turner (Ph.D., University of Gottingen, Germany, 1896), chairman of the department, and Dr. Rolla Harger (Ph.D., Yale University, 1922), newly recruited assistant professor. Dr. Harger, inventor of the drunkometer, rose through the ranks and became chairman of the Department in 1933, a position he held until 1958, a year of reorganization marked by completion of the Medical Science Building and formation of separate Departments of Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Dr. Donald Bowman (Ph.D., Western Reserve University, 1937), who was recruited in 1941 and is known for the Bbiochem_history.jpgowman-Birk protease inhibitor, was named chairman in 1958 of the new Department of Biochemistry. Original members of the Department included Drs. James Ashmore (Ph.D., St. Louis University, 1953) and David M. Gibson (M.D., Harvard University, 1948), both recruited in 1958. The Biochemistry Graduate Program was initiated in that same year. Other notable recruitments during Dr. Bowman's tenure include: Drs. Frank R.N. Gurd (Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, 1949), John F. Bonner (Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1948), Donald B. Wetlaufer (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1954), Roger Roeske (Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1957), and Larry K. Steinrauf (Ph.D., University of Washington, 1957). Dr. Gibson, who first isolated AMP-activated protein kinase, was appointed Chairman of the Department in 1967. After 23 years of outstanding leadership that included the recruitment of 14 faculty members, Dr. Gibson stepped down as Chairman in 1988. Notable recruitments under Dr. Gibson's tenure include: Drs. E. Jack Davis (Ph.D., McGill University, 1963), Jean Hamilton (Ph.D., Glasgow University, 1962), Mary Pinkerton, Thomas Gifford (M.S., University of Georgia, 1955), Paul Blair (Ph.D., Purdue University, 1961), Enrico Bucci (M.D., 1956; Ph.D., 1964, University of Rome,), Arthur R. Schulz (Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 1959), William P. Bryan (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1957), Robert A. Harris (Ph.D., Purdue University, 1965), David W. Allmann (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1964), Edwin T. Harper (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1959), Howard J. Edenberg (Ph.D., Stanford University, 1973), Peter J. Roach (Ph.D., Glasgow University, 1972), and Anna DePaoli-Roach (Biol.Sc.D., University of Siena, 1972).

Dr. Harris, Associate Chairman of the Department since 1983, was appointed Chairman of Biochemistry upon Dr. Gibson's retirement. Dr. Peter Roach, Graduate Advisor of the Department since 1988, was named Associate Chairman in 1991. The name of the Department was changed in 1990 to include Molecular Biology in recognition of the importance of this field to the discipline. The Department moved to the new wing of the Medical Science Building in October of 1998. Dr. Harris stepped down in 2004 after 16 years as Chairman of the Department. Faculty who joined the department during his tenure include: Drs. William F. Bosron (Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 1973), Mark G. Goebl (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1985), Ronald C. Wek (Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 1987), Alan S. Waldman (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1985), Maureen A. Harrington (Ph.D., University of North Carolina, 1985), Gen-Sheng Feng (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1990), Thomas D. Hurley (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1990), Lawrence Quilliam (Ph.D. University of Sheffield, 1986), David Timm (Ph.D., Case Western Reserve, 1993), Suk-Hee Lee (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1987), Hiremagalur N. Jayaram (Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science, 1970), Debbie Thurmond (Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1997), Millie M. Georgiadis (Ph.D., University of California, 1990), A. Keith Dunker (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1969), and Mu Wang (Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis, 1998).

Dr. Hurley served as interim Chairman of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while a national search was conducted for a new leader of the Department. Dr. Zhong-Yin Zhang (Ph.D., Purdue University, 1990) was recruited as Chairman of the Department in 2005 and served for 10 years until 2015. Members of the faculty recruited by Dr. Zhang include: Drs. Andy Hudmon (Ph.D., University of Texas, Houston, 1997), Samy Meroueh (Ph.D., Wayne State University, 2001), Jeremy Sanford (Ph.D., Case Western Reserve, 2001), Yuichiro Takagi (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 1997), Clark D. Wells (Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern, 2001), Qi-Zhuang Ye (Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1988), Hua Lu (Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1993), X. Charlie Dong (Ph.D., Ohio State University, 2002), Hyun-Suk Lim (Ph.D., POSTECH, Korea, 2004), Quyen Hoang (Ph.D., McMaster University, 2003), Amber Mosley (Ph.D. University of Kentucky, 2004), Steven Johnson (Ph.D. The Scripps Research Institute, 2006), and Jaeyeon Kim (Ph.D. University of Illinois, 2008). The Department wishes Dr. Zhang well in his new endeavors at his doctoral alma mater, Purdue University.

Dr. Hurley, Associate Chairman since 2009, has been named Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while a national search is being organized to identify a new Chairperson to take the Department in exciting new directions.

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