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    Hello! Welcome to Breakthroughs, a site devoted to sharing with you the latest, greatest advancements from the College of Science at Oregon State University. From breakthroughs in research to transformational philanthropy to interesting tidbits from the daily life of the College, we'll post frequently to keep you up-to-date. Please visit often and absolutely let us know what you might like to learn more about. Enjoy, and of course, GO BEAVS!
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Biochemistry & Biophysics

The graduate program in biochemistry & biophysics is ranked by the NRC among the top 20% of biochemistry programs nationally and as one of the top 15 programs in the western United states.


From molecules to mice. Nothing is more fundamental in science than understanding life — what life is, how it works, and how living systems are affected by their environment. The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at Oregon State University takes an interdisciplinary approach to tackle some of the most fundamental problems in the biological sciences; problems that are consequential to human health and the health of our environment, and problems that are of local, national, and international interest.

The department is fully integrated into OSU’s centers and institutes in the biological sciences, e.g., the Linus Pauling Institute, and the Center for Genomic Research and Biotechnology.

OSU researchers in biochemistry and biophysics examine living systems from the atomic structure of basic molecular building blocks, to the molecular basis for diseases and aging, to the mechanisms responsible for the development of cardiovascular and neuronal systems in mammals.

Research in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics is supported by outstanding facilities and a large number of externally funded grants and contracts. The department faculty:

  • supports undergraduate research through grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and from the National Science Foundation.
  • holds patents in areas of biotechnology and bioengineering.
  • has been awarded over $5 million in annual grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and private foundations.

Faculty members in the department are internationally recognized leaders in their fields, and they include the current directors of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and the Environmental Health Sciences Center as well as past directors of OSU’s Environmental Health Sciences Center and Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology.

Faculty in biochemistry & biophysics hold memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, are listed among the top-cited biochemists in the world, and have held numerous fellowships and honors, including Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships.

Two of the most widely used textbooks for instruction in the fields of biochemistry and in biophysics were written by members of the department faculty.

Research has been published by departmental faculty in some of the most visible journals in the sciences; it has also been highlighted in news stories by the British Broadcasting corporation and the Washington Post.

Experiential learning attracts some of the best and brightest students at OSU to the department’s undergraduate program: its graduate program is nationally ranked.

The department offers an undergraduate program leading to a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree, and a graduate program leading to the master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

Laboratory research is a strong component of the department, and this research is an integral part of both the undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2006-2007, there were 125 undergraduate majors and 25 Ph.D. students.

Alumni have continued their education in some of the most prestigious post-graduate programs across the country, including the M.D./Ph.D. programs at Stanford University and the University of Washington, M.D. programs at the Mao Clinic, Dartmouth Medical School, Oregon Health and Sciences University, and Ph.D. programs at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Wisconsin. Several have been awarded very competitive graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation.

Ph.D. and M.S. degree graduates have established successful careers in academia and industry, holding faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University, and the Mayo Clinic, as well as positions at the leading pharmaceutical companies, including Schering-Plough, Merck, and Novartis.

Faculty, staff and students of the department participate in various community outreach and education programs, including college of Science Ambassadors, Science Connections, Discovery Days, and SEPS, and various outreach programs associated with the Environmental Health Sciences Center.

Members of the faculty have also provided lectures on chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and structural biology to local middle school and high school students in their own classrooms and in classrooms at OSU, including the stereographics classroom.

The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics was instrumental in establishing many of OSU’s successful multidisciplinary programs.

Research areas include:
Biological mass spectrometry
Cardiac development
Cell adhesion
Cell signaling
Cellular biosensors
Chemical carcinogenesis
Computational biology
Control of gene expression
Motor proteins
Neuronal development
Nucleic acid enzymology
Nucleic acid structure and function
Oxidative stress
Protein structure and function
Protein-protein interactions
Protein-nucleic acid interactions

Faculty Honors
The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics has 16 faculty members who hold honors, including:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Merit Award
NIH Research Career Development Awards (2 awards)
NIH James A. Shannon Director’s Awards (3 awards)
National Science Foundation CAREER Award
American Chemical Society, Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry
Guggenheim Fellowship
Discovery Awards, Oregon Medical Research Foundation (3 awards)
OSU Distinguished Professors
Sigma Xi Researcher of the Year Award (3 awards)
OSU Dar Reese Advising Award
Loyd Carter Awards for Excellence in Teaching (2 awards)
Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising
Gilfillan Award for Excellence in Research
Milton Harris for Excellence in Research (2 awards)
Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

The department has available a number of specialized research facilities, including:
Confocal microscopy
Flow cytometry
X-ray crystallography
NMR spectroscopy
Mass spectrometry
Analytical ultracentrifugation
Computational resources

Students in biochemistry & biophysics include five Goldwater scholars and one finalist among Rhodes Scholars

Student Achievements
Five Goldwater Awards in three years
Iota Sigma Pi Undergrad Researcher of the Year
25 of last 27 student applicants accepted to medical schools
Rhodes Scholarship finalist
Marshall Scholarship finalist

For 10 years, over 50% of biochemistry & biophysics students have graduated cum laude or higher; about 15% graduate with Honors.

For more information, please contact:
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
College of Science
2011 Agricultural & Life Science Bldg.
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
phone: 541-737-4511
fax: 541-737-0481

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