About the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology | NYU Langone Health

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About the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

Our history dates back to the founding of NYU School of Medicine in 1841.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at NYU Langone Health was created in 2012 through a merger of what were then the Departments of Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

Past members of our faculty include Nobel laureates Severo Ochoa, MD; Arthur Kornberg, MD; Julius Axelrod, PhD; and Otto Loewi, MD; as well as leaders such as James Shannon, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1955 to 1968, and Robert Berliner, MD, deputy director for science at the NIH from 1969 to 1973.

In 2004, one of our distinguished adjunct professors, Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the ubiquitin system.

Current faculty have received numerous prestigious awards, including the NIH Avant-Garde Award, the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and the NIH MERIT Award. Among our scientists are an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow, three Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, and two members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Our History

NYU Langone faculty in the fields of biochemistry and pharmacology have led important scientific advancements since the mid-19th century.

1841

NYU School of Medicine was founded as the medical department of the University of the City of New York and opened in the Stuyvesant Institute at 659 Broadway. The original faculty included Valentine Mott, MD; John W. Draper, MD; Granville Sharp Pattison, MD; Gunning S. Bedford, MD; John Revere, MD; and Martyn Paine, MD. Dr. Draper was named the first department chair.

1865

Dr. Draper was appointed chair of the Department of Chemistry.

1886

Rudolph A. Witthaus, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Chemistry.

1898

John A. Mandel, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Chemistry, a post he held for 31 years.

1902

The Department of Pharmacology was established, becoming one of the first of its kind in the country. The first chair was George Barclay Wallace, MD.

1930

R. Keith Cannan, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Cannan worked with Jonas Salk, MD, on the inactivation of viruses through chemical means.

1936

Otto Loewi, MD, a research professor of pharmacology, shared the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir Henry Hallett Dale for the discovery of acetylcholine.

1946

Severo Ochoa, MD, who came to NYU Langone in 1942, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

1954

Lured by new laboratories in the recently built Medical Science Building, Dr. Ochoa was appointed chair of the Department of Chemistry, which was renamed Biochemistry. Bernard Davis, MD, took his place in the Department of Pharmacology.

1958

William Van der Kloot, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

1959

Dr. Ochoa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with his former postdoctoral fellow, Arthur Kornberg, MD, for the discovery of mechanisms underlying the synthesis of RNA and DNA. Other notable members of the departments include Charles Weissmann, MD, PhD; Piet Borst, MD, PhD; and Peter Lengyel, MD, PhD.

1963

Bert LaDu, MD, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

1974

Robert Chambers, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry.

1975

Wlodzimierz Szer, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry.

1979

G. Nigel Godson, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry.

1980

Michael Shelanski, MD, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

1989

Yossi Schlessinger, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

2001

Herbert H. Samuels, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

2004

Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, distinguished adjunct professor, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the ubiquitin system.

2006

Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry, which expanded into the Joan and Joel Smilow Research Center.

2011

Hannah L. Klein, PhD, was appointed interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry.

2012

The Departments of Biochemistry and Pharmacology merged into the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, with Dr. Klein as chair.

2015

Michele Pagano, MD, was appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.