Department of Biochemistry
Modern medical schools have made Biochemistry as an integral part of their curriculum. Biochemistry emerged in the late 18th century – following the development of Chemistry in 17th century. Biochemistry has been a field reserved for post-graduate study from its inception throughout much of its history. Some universities established Biochemistry Departments primarily to train students for the MSc., Ph.D., and M.D. degrees. One of the first documented formal courses in the field was taught by Russell Chittenden at Yale University in 1874. Although the exact time and place of the first undergraduate program in Biochemistry are uncertain, few colleges and universities began offering the bachelor’s degree in the late 1960s. During the 1970s and even early 1980s, having a faculty member with Biochemistry expertise was a luxury for both Chemistry and Biology Departments. In those days, the vast majority of undergraduate students preparing for careers in Biochemistry were required to obtain a Chemistry bachelor degree. The curriculum for the students might have included one or two semesters of Biochemistry. As a result, Biochemistry was considered to be outside of the realm of “real” Chemistry–real Chemistry that included Organic, Physical, Analytical, and Inorganic parts. Although Chemistry is taken as the science of matters, Biochemistry focuses on the study of biological matters. Previously, at times, Biochemistry was even referred to as ‘Biological Chemistry’ or ‘Physiological Chemistry.’ Moreover, Molecular Biology itself is commonly regarded as part of Biochemistry and thus it was reflected in the names of scientific societies and journals.
In Ethiopia, Biochemistry is first thought at Addis Ababa University at the graduate level beginning of 1962/63. At a national level, only Addis Ababa University offers a Master degree in Biochemistry.
At the University of Gondar, Biochemistry as a subject is given to students Medicine since the start of the College of Medicine. Later on, it was given to other health science students. The MSc program of the Biochemistry was launched since 2018.
Rationale: All medical sciences require the knowledge of Biochemistry as essential field of study. Biochemistry of the nucleic acids lies at the heart of genetics; in turn, the use of genetic approaches has been critical for elucidating various areas of Biochemistry. Physiology, the study of body function almost completely overlaps with Biochemistry. Immunology employs numerous biochemical techniques, and many immunologic approaches have found widely used by Biochemists. Both pharmacology and pharmacy rest on a sound knowledge of Biochemistry and Physiology as most drugs are metabolized by enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Biochemical approaches areincreasingly being used to study basic aspects of pathology (the study of disease), such as inflammation, cell injury, and cancer. These relationships are not surprising, because life depends on biochemical reactions and processes.
For this reason, Biochemistry is a discipline which is crucial for life science students in general and for medicine students in particular. Ethiopia has about 25 universities that deliver medical and other health science courses. As a consequence, there are critical shortages of Biochemists who can deliver these crucial and important courses across the country. University of Gondar has a well-established medical school and is well suited to open a Master Program in Medical Biochemistry. This program will be committed in producing Medical Biochemists that are capable of teaching and undertaking research. The University of Gondar believes that granting MSc in Medical Biochemistry would absolutely reduce the chronic shortage of trained human capital in the field. Since the size of the Ethiopian population is above 100,000,000, establishing a credible MSc program in Medical Biochemistry with the objective of producing qualified professionals in the field is immensely obligatory. There is a growing demand for a MSc training in Medical Biochemistry from various universities. For those who aspire to commence their MSc education in Medical Biochemistry, there is only one university, namely, the Addis Ababa University that offers MSc in Medical Biochemistry. Hence, the University of Gondar projects to fill the growing gap between the needs of the students and scarcity of MSc in Medical Biochemistry in Ethiopia. The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Gondar has strongly prepared the necessary materials for teaching and research and has also qualified faculty which points to readiness to run the program. The Department has potential partners from other Departments of Biochemistry such as Addis Ababa University and the University of Toronto, Canada.