Postcard: Celebrating shared biochemistry heritage in India

Professor Pat Eyers and Professor Uptal S. Tatu stand underneath sign that says 'Biochemistry'

Professor Pat Eyers (pictured left) is the Johnston Chair and Head of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Liverpool. Here he stands with Professor Uptal S. Tatu.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting Bengaluru in Southern India as part of a delegation from the University of Liverpool.

I was delighted to meet with colleagues at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore.

Established in 1909, the IISC remains the premier science institute in India. During our visit, our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Jones, exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding with Professor Govindan Rangarajan

During our visit I had the pleasure of meeting my counterpart at IISc Bangalore, Professor Uptal S. Tatu, Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry. Here we discussed the strong links between the University of Liverpool and IISc, two of the oldest biochemistry departments in the world.

The Biochemistry Department in Liverpool was established in 1902 with a very generous donation of £25,000 to the University. The creation of the ‘bio-chemistry’ department (note the hyphen used at the time) rapidly led to the creation of the Biochemical Journal; the two triggered a minor revolution in the world of biology, and as of 2023, the quest to understand life in molecular detail continues at pace in Liverpool in the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Systems Biology.

In 1921, two British biochemists, Dr Roland Norris and Dr Gilbert Fowler, became the first chairmen of the Department of Biochemistry at IISc Bangalore, and the department exists to this day as a flourishing interdisciplinary environment at the heart of the campus.

Thanks to the exchange of the MoU we can now build on our history and ‘catalyse’ interactions between biochemists on two continents from an international research and training perspective; it’s wonderful that the two oldest departments in the world are coming together in this way. We have so much to learn from each other and by connecting, we will help galvanise the next 100 years to ensure that the most fundamental of the biosciences keeps moving forward to face the huge numbers of challenges that will be thrown at us.

You can read more about the University of Liverpool’s trip to Bengaluru here