Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Department of Biochemistry, 1893


During its first fifty years the Department of Biochemistry (which was called "medical chemistry" from 1893 to 1910 and "biological chemistry" from 1910 until 1937) sponsored a lecture and laboratory course for medical students but provided no graduate program and conducted very little research. However, the arrival of Dr. Gerhard Schmidt in 1940 marked a great change for the medical school and the New England Medical Center Hospital. Dr. Schmidt was the first distinguished biochemist to join Tufts' faculty, having been invited by Dr. Siegfried Thannhauser to establish a research laboratory for the Department of Medicine.

In 1949 Dr. Halvor N. Christensen became chairman of the renamed Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition and began a program of modernization. He helped oversee the move of the department to Harrison Avenue as well as the construction of a new teaching laboratory where students could perform chemical analyses of blood, urine, and gastric fluids. Moreover, he strengthened the course of study with the assistance of Drs. Schmidt and William Fishman and was successful in recruiting faculty members with research interests. He also initiated a graduate training program.

Dr. Alton Meisrer, who was appointed professor and chair of the department in 1955, recruited additional research-oriented faculty. He also ensured that laboratory space was renovated and equipped with modern instruments. During his tenure, the graduate program flourished due to NIH training grant support. Its enrollment grew from nine students in 1957 to twenty-two in 1965. These graduates went on to assume leadership positions in departments throughout the country.

In 1967 Dr. Morris Friedkin, who had been head of the pharmacology department since 1958, became chair of biochemistry. He subsequently recruited several faculty members into the department. The following year Dr. Friedkin moved to California and Dr. Schmidt was named acting chair.

In 1969 Dr. Henry Mautner was recruited to create a combined department of biochemistry and pharmacology. After Dr. Mautner stepped down in 1984, Dr. David Stollar, a distinguished biochemist with an international reputation, was named acting chair, and two searches were organized in order to recruit leaders of separate departments of pharmacology and biochemistry, in accordance with the recommendation of review committees. In 1986 Dr. Stollar was named chairman of biochemistry and Dr. Louis Shuster was appointed the acting chair of pharmacology. Dr. Stollar received his M.D. degree in 1959 from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. After postdoctoral education in Saskatoon, Canada and Brandeis University, he joined the Tufts faculty in 1964.

Drs. Shuster, North, Theoharides, and Thomson formed the nucleus of the pharmacology department. The remainder of the faculty of the former joint department remained involved with biochemistry. Under Dr. Stollar's leadership, biochemistry laboratories were renovated, new research equipment was purchased, additional faculty were recruited, and the graduate program was strengthened.

Source: COE, 128-29.

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  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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