Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago. Our Department offers training for careers in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Research encompasses all areas of modern biochemistry, including but not limited to the following topics: protein engineering, RNA catalysis, error biology, microbiology, stress response, DNA recombination, epigenetics, molecular immunology, cytoskelelton, ion channels and membrane biophysics, and protein and RNA folding. In addition to more traditional biochemical approaches, techniques employed in the department include but are not limited to NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, single-molecule techniques, computational approaches, display technology, electron paramagnetic resonance, and small angle X-ray scattering. Our Department is distinguished by its intellectual rigor and collaborative style. The interdisciplinary nature of the Department is further accentuated through the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, which brings together biological and physical scientists to pursue common research goals, and through NIH-sponsored training programs in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemical Biology.
In a series of investigations starting in 1906, Robert R. Bensley demonstrated that the islets of Langerhans were specialized elements of the pancreas. He developed staining methods that distinguished between alpha cells and the beta cells that produce insulin. Bensley's work was fundamental to the discovery of insulin. He later developed techniques to disassemble cells and isolate cellular components by spinning them in a centrifuge, a technique he used in 1934 to isolate mitochondria.