In this new era, our goal will be to integrate our approaches with clinical research and education in the context of ‘High Definition Biochemistry’ (HD BCH): The use of better analytics to explore new opportunities in the context of better-defined systems of interest."

Prof. Markus WENK
Head of Department

Professor Markus WENK

Head of Department

 

+65 6516 3242
bchhead@nus.edu.sg

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry.

It is an exciting time for the field of Biochemistry, with many aspects of today’s life increasingly dependent on better biochemical descriptions and understanding. Although we still largely follow the foundational approach of “take it apart and study the individual components in isolation”, we now have tremendously enhanced tools with which to characterize and measure changes at both the molecular and systems levels.

Take, for example, human diseases—which are typically thought of first—and human health.

We care more and more about food composition and routinely consume supplements. What in the past was reserved for babies has now been developed into specialized nutrition for different groups of people. Daily physical activity and its quantitation via personalized trackers of caloric intake over energy expenditure are now mainstream, and the customization of skin care and cosmetics are another example of how trends are moving toward individualization. These new tendencies are invigorating the field of Biochemistry, and illustrate the widespread importance of this field in emerging frontiers.

Yet, various aspects of food digestion, absorption, transport, and utilization remain poorly understood. Furthermore, following the extensive foray into genetics analyses, we now know that human health and disease are based upon many critical biochemical reactions that extend far beyond our genetic background and variation. Collectively, there is now a call for better definitions of the ‘physiological state’—not just the diseased state—along with the much-needed descriptions as to the effects of life-style, nutritional habits and age. We also seek new ways to examine the main components of living matter—nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids—in more resolved and individualized fashions. This will require improved methods and approaches for qualitative and quantitative measurements, and, most importantly, their integration.

The Department of Biochemistry at NUS is in a good position to address these needs. First, we are embedded within the School of Medicine, in close physical and administrative proximity to our colleagues in clinical departments. Second, change management inevitably means learning. Given that our Department is the first point of contact for incoming dental, medical and life science students each year, we will have to redefine our roles and contributions to our ongoing teaching commitments as well as our professional development in education. Third, our scientific strengths are organized into three general themes (Ageing, Metabolism, and Synthetic Biology), and these are aligned with areas of growing opportunity. Last, but not least, the Department harbours considerable analytical capabilities across the major classes of biomolecules. In this new era, our goal will be to integrate our approaches with clinical research and education in the context of ‘High Definition Biochemistry’ (HD BCH): The use of better analytics to explore new opportunities in the context of better-defined systems of interest. Such analytical distinctions will be key for our functional understanding of the physiological state.

It will be a privilege to lead the Department of Biochemistry into this next important phase of ‘High Definition Biochemistry’. I look forward to collaborating with you in these endeavours.

Our Mission Statement

Our Mission is to enhance the international stature of National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore through excellence in research, teaching and scholarship in Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology.

Our Commitment

To excel in Research, Teaching & Training of undergraduates, Graduates and Postdoctoral fellows in Biomedical Sciences.