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Department History

The Department of Biochemistry was established in August 1964 as one of the UNM School of Medicine’s founding departments, with Robert B. Loftfield, PhD, as its first chair. Following the recommendations of a 1969 Danforth Foundation review, the Biochemistry Department was tasked with providing undergraduate biochemistry instruction at UNM.

The undergraduate biochemistry program, implemented in 1984, attracts many of the university’s best students. At least half of the program’s graduates, including many minority students, go on to graduate and professional school, many at the School of Medicine. Moreover, almost all UNM students who apply to the School of Medicine have taken one of the department’s upper division biochemistry courses.

In 1996 the dean of the School of Medicine created an ad hoc committee to recommend options for consolidating and reorganizing the departments of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Physiology and Pharmacology. This reorganization was intended to reestablish critical mass in basic science departments and strengthen programmatic research. The four resulting basic science departments, including the present Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, were formally established on July 1, 1997.

Faculty research interests include metabolism and metabolic disease, cancer biology and cancer therapeutics, and biochemistry education research.


Robert B. Loftfield, PhD
Founding Chair

Loftfield served as the chairman of the Department of Biochemistry (now Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from 1964-1971 and again from 1978-1990. In 2013, he was named a UNM School of Medicine Living Legend.

We invite you to learn more and leave your remembrances in the School of Medicine Faculty Memorial.

Our Mission

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology works to create and impart knowledge of the biochemical basis of disease through individual and multidisciplinary research, medical, graduate, undergraduate and continuing education and the training of clinical and basic research scientists.