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biochemistry and biophysics
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The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics can be traced back to the founding of the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Medicine in 1765, the oldest in the United States. The Department’s endowed chairs include John Morgan (co-founder of the college) and the illustrious Founding Father, Benjamin Rush – who were both members of the first collegiate faculty in chemistry, anatomy, surgery and medicine pursuing and teaching on "the theory and practice of physick". 

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Today the Department’s pursuits still provide instruction to medical students and are integrated within a single medical school and hospital complex with its unusually collegiate medical fraternity. Faculty research aims to contribute first-principles chemical and physical understanding of biology at levels that can be translated to practical benefits in medicine and clinic. The Eldridge Reeves Johnson Research Foundation within the Department offers advanced physical instrumentation and techniques – plus instruction – for faculty, students, and postdocs. We are well known for bringing innovative approaches, theory and practice, quantum to cellular, to the challenge of understanding molecular mechanism and functions so that they can be brought under control to promote human health and wellbeing.

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The Department is also home to the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (BMB) Graduate Group, which expresses the extraordinary collegial nature of this Department, Medical School, and University. This Graduate Group within Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) at Penn opens the door to graduate research choices in biochemistry and biophysics for rotations and completion of research dissertations beyond the department. Members of the Graduate Group are drawn from Departments throughout the Medical School and Hospital, the adjoining Children’s Hospital, as well as the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering and Applied Sciences.


MITCH LEWIS, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, is recognized for promoting innovations in medical school teaching. Read more.

gray line2017 Inaugural Pilot Grant Awards from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics awarded to:
JOSH WAND (with Ed Behrens and Youhai Chen),
Accelerating applications of reverse micelle encapsulation in drug discovery and structural biology
JAMES SHORTER and BEN BLACK, Defining the structural basis of TDP-43 phase separation and pathological fibrillization via hydrogren/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry

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WALTER ENGLANDER delivered keynote address at the first International Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden in May.

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PAUL AXELSEN appointed Chair of Biophysics of Neural Systems Study Section in July.

gray lineA high-resolution view of the structure of Hsp104 (heat shock protein 104), a natural yeast protein nanomachine with six subunits, has been acquired by JAMES SHORTER, and colleagues at the University of Michigan. The team described their findings in Science
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gray lineRONEN MARMORSTEIN received a $2.5 million dollar grant for the creation of a state-of-the-art cryogenic electron microscopy facility. Read more
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Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Position Open. More information