Department of Biochemistry
and Molecular Biology
logo Obafemi Awolowo University
Ile-Ife, Osun State.

History of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was known as Department of Biochemistry until 9th December, 2015 when the proposal for a change of name was approved by the University Governing Council at its 238th meeting. The re-naming became imperative, firstly, to accommodate the ever expanding fields of biochemistry and Molecular Biology which together forms the bedrock oc all the other Life Science disciplines. Secondly, is to keep in line with global trends in the discipline as recommended by the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology(IUBMB) and the Nigerian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NSBMB). However, the history of the Department dated as far back as 1969 when the university decided, based on the report of a committee, to amalgamate the existing Department of Zoology and Botany into a giant Department called Biological Sciences, which would also include biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics. All the fice programmes existed as units inthe Department of Biological Sciences. Each unit graduated students in Biology with specilaization in Biochemistry, Botany, e.t.c. (e.g. B.Sc. Biology with specialization in biochemistry). At some pont, Applied biology was introduced as a specialization in Biological Sciences but was again removed after a few sessions.

The pioneering staff included Dr. F.D. Onajobi (now retired Professor F.D. Onajobi) appointed in November 1968 but joined in March 1969, Dr. A. Afolayan (now retired professor A. Afolayan) appointed in October 1969, but joined in August 1970, Dr. O.A. Ogunbiti (now late) joined in 1971 and Professor Z. Boszormenyi who transferred from the Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Agriculture, to head the Biochemistry Unit in 1971. The first Biochemistry programme was prepared and contained all the necessary Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Zoology, Botany, Microbiology courses required by the students offering Biochemistry as a course.

The first set of eight students to graduate with B.Sc. (Hons) Biology, with specialization in biochemistry from the Department of Biological Sciences graduated in June 1972. Also postgraduate programmes in Biochemistry (M.Sc. M.Phil. and Ph.D) were developed and approved in 1974. The first sets of Postgraduate students were admitted in the 1975/76 session. The academic staff of Biochemistry unit of the Department of Biological Sciences gradually grew in number and strength. Dr. Muhlrad, a Hungarian, joined the Department during 1971/72 session and was in hte Department until 1973. Dr. J.O. Folayan (now late), joined the Department in 1973. Dr(Miss) Theresa Ahern, (now Dr. (Mrs.) Animashaun), (Briton) joined the Department in May 1975. Dr. E.O. Ngaha joined the Biochemistry Staff in 1975/76 session, Prof. Akintola Aboderin, transferred his services from the University of Lagos, Lagos to the Department. Dr. (Mrs.) W.L. Stafford, (Scottish), a nutritional biochemist was also with the Department for a few years before leaving in September 1977. Dr. W.F. Vann, a young Afro-America who was a Microbial Biochemist, spent one session, leaving in September 1977. Mr. M.D. Okunsanya joined the Department as Technologist in December 1974.

As a result of the deliberations and recommendation of various committes which spanned over a period of about five years, the amalgamation of Biochemistry, Botany, Microbiology, Zoology and Genetics into one Department of Biological Sciences came to an end on July 1, 1976, when Biochemistry became a separate Department. However, the other four units (Botany, Microbiology, Zoology and Genetics) still remained together under the Department of Biology for a few more years before each unit, except Genetics became Department. The recommendation was that Genetics should support the various Department Department and be taught in the Department of botany and Zoology.

Since its inception as a full-fledged Department, the curriculum of the Department has been revised many times with the last one in 2015 in line with NUC minimum standard as well as global trends. These revisions were necessary in line with the international growth and development in the science of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Right from the inception of Biochemistry as a unit in Biological Sciences, the Department was entrusted with the task of teaching Biochemistry courses to various allied Departments and Faculties. Theses inlcude biochemistry for Faculties of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Technology (Food Science and Technology), Departments of Botany, Zoology, and Microbiology. Over the years, the Department of Biochemistry at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has graduated many students and the Department is proud to say that the Alumni hold their heads high in various works of life they find themselves owing largely to the solid background they acquired from the Department and by extension the University.