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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Message from the Chair



As Interim Chair, I welcome this opportunity to comment on the mission of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB), to share with you its proud history of groundbreaking research, and to convey my sense of excitement and enthusiasm for the cutting-edge research and the collegial environment that defines the department today.  

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is widely acknowledged to be the finest degree-granting institution for research and training in public health in the world.  As a founding department in the school, BMB has played a leading role in the development of this reputation.  Since its inception, the core mission of BMB has always been one of discovery.  In particular, work in the department has focused on discovering the molecular and cellular basis of health and disease and informing changes in public health policy and practice that improve living standards.  This is exemplified by the pioneering research of the department’s first chair, Dr. Elmer Verner McCollum, whose laboratory studies on nutrition led him to discover vitamins and their essential roles in human health.  Work by the department’s third chair, Dr. Lawrence Grossman, also provided some of the earliest insights into the relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer. Thus, with its emphasis on basic, laboratory based research, past discoveries made in BMB have saved lives by influencing the way people eat and how they enjoy their time in the sun.   

Inspired by the past, research today in BMB is every bit as focused on making discoveries that will improve the human condition.  There are currently three interrelated areas of research that include (1) reproductive health and disease, (2) cell stress, quality control pathways and disease and (3) cancer and aging-related diseases. Research efforts in these areas are led by highly motivated, interactive and energetic faculty members who are confident that their discoveries will improve lives by providing insights into issues ranging from human fertility to neurodegenerative diseases to cancer. 

Directly linked to its strong research programs, BMB also has a long and proud tradition of training students and postdoctoral fellows for careers in science.  A high priority for faculty and staff alike is to recruit a diverse group of highly motivated, talented trainees and to challenge them to excel and become the best they can be through our teaching and mentoring. The tightly interwoven research and educational missions, along with the dedication and congeniality of faculty, staff and students, make BMB an intellectually stimulating and forward-looking environment to be part of.  The success of our past trainees is exemplified by the positions many of them hold as leaders in academia, government and industry throughout the country.    Elsewhere on this site you can learn more about our current and past trainees and about opportunities for pursuing education and training at the master’s (MHS, ScM), predoctoral (PhD) and postdoctoral levels, as well as our outreach efforts.

Our department and the School of Public Health are located on the East Baltimore campus which also houses the School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.  BMB is fully integrated within this community, with our faculty holding joint appointments in other departments and centers and engaging in collaborative research studies with other labs across the university. Through formal and informal mechanisms, we constantly interact, share ideas and facilities, and work together to discover answers to challenging research questions. This collaborate spirit has the effect of truly making the whole greater than the sum of the individuals and is what defines BMB and the greater Johns Hopkins University.

I thank you for your visit. This site was designed with you in mind. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions and comments via our CONNECT campaign.

Michael J. Matunis

Professor and Interim Chair

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health