As I enter my fifth year as department head and 31st year as a faculty member and research biochemist, I marvel at how diverse and interdisciplinary our field has become. In BCMB in particular, we have developed considerable strength at the interface between molecular and cellular biosciences and computational/mathematic approaches. In the new era of “Big Data,” we have witnessed the emergence of “Systems Biology” that leverages large datasets of gene expression, proteomics, and metabolic information to understand and predict how molecule networks interact to give rise to emergent properties and behaviors of cells and organisms. These approaches take innovative collaborations between the physical and biological sciences, as well as robust and high-powered computational resources. In this edition of Discoveries, we feature how BCMB faculty are utilizing the high-powered supercomputing resources at ORNL.
In addition, we highlight one of our new talented faculty members, Rachel McCord, who uses systems biology approaches to construct 3-D models of genomes associated with normal and disease states. While we celebrate our departmental growth and evolution, we also honor and recognize the pioneers of the early biochemistry department without whom BCMB would not exist. In this edition, we highlight one of our first PhD graduate alumni, Bill Albritton, as well as his work in assisting us with ongoing efforts to provide recognition and awards for our very best graduate students. I hope you enjoy reading these, as well as our other highlights of outstanding BCMB graduate and undergraduate students!