Skip Navigation

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Message from the Chair



Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As the new Chair, I’d like to share my thoughts on the Department’s research and education programs and my goals for the future.

When I started my career in biomedical sciences over 30 years ago as a technician in the Oncology Center at Johns Hopkins, I took classes in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as it offered a master’s degree. It is almost surreal to come back here to chair the very Department that was my first foray into graduate education. I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to be here – in a department doing cutting-edge basic biology research, within a School focused on creating solutions to address public health.

BMB’s history of making basic science discoveries that advance public health reaches back over 100 years to the founding of the School of Public Health. The first Chair, E.V. McCollum, made early advances in nutrition, including the discovery of vitamin A, that inform not just current nutrition science research, but decisions people make today about their health and diets.

The ongoing and critical impact of basic biochemical and molecular research on the treatments and practices that are used in global health care cannot be ignored. Without a fundamental understanding on a molecular level, many of the therapies we use to treat diseases such as cancer, malaria and diabetes would not have been developed. My goal as chair will be to further integrate our basic biology research with the other Departments within the School of Public Health, connecting, for example, the evolving epidemiology of aging and cancer mortality with basic science observations on the how the aging tumor microenvironment drives tumor progression.

In addition to advancing public health through basic research, BMB has a tradition of education and training. The department’s master's, doctoral and postdoctoral programs offer trainees opportunities to advance their careers in science and medicine. Our faculty and staff put a priority on recruiting talented, motived trainees, and providing them with effective teaching and mentoring so that they can excel. We strive to provide a challenging but supportive and intellectually stimulating environment, and one of my goals is to ensure that BMB continues to be a Department that fosters collaboration, encourages diversity and embraces inclusion of all people. I look forward to all of the exciting times ahead!



Ashani Weeraratna

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Chair