The Edward A. Doisy Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was founded by Edward A. Doisy, Ph.D., shortly after the completion of his doctoral studies in 1920 at Harvard University.
Dr. Doisy was the first to isolate and chemically characterize estrone, a steroid sex hormone, opening up the entire field of steroid hormones for chemical and medical investigation.
Doisy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on determining the chemical nature of vitamin K, an essential component in blood coagulation. Dr. Doisy reassigned much of the income derived from his research to the medical school, which annually provides millions of dollars to our research and teaching infrastructure.
Dr. Robert Olson, a distinguished physician and nutritionist, became chairman of the department. During his nearly two decades as chairman, Dr. Olson nurtured expansion of research within the department, and successfully campaigned for the integration of nutritional science into clinical medicine.
Dr. William Sly, a physician and molecular geneticist, was recruited as chairman. Well known for his work in the area of lysosomal cell biology and storage diseases, his research expanded to include carbonic anhydrases and regulation of iron storage in health and disease.
Dr. Sly’s many contributions to the study of inborn errors of metabolism have received international recognition, and resulted in numerous awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences.
In January 2010, Enrico Di Cera, M.D., became chairman of the department. Dr. Di Cera was recruited from the Department of Biochemistry at Washington University, St. Louis. His experimental approach involves the use of structural and biochemical techniques to better understand key components of the blood coagulation system and related pathways. Under his leadership, the department continues in its fine tradition of excellence in scientific research.
In 2014, the department celebrated its 90 year anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, Joel Eissenberg, Ph.D., and Enrico Di Cera, M.D., wrote an article in Missouri Medicine entitled “In vitro veritas: 90 years of Biochemistry at Saint Louis University.” The article detailed the history of the department and the contributions each of the four chairmen have had in shaping the growth, resources, and excellence in research of the department.
In 2024, the department will hold its Centennial Celebration. As a precursor, the September/October 2023 issue of Missouri Medicine features the BMB department as it starts its second century “For the Furtherance of Research.” The issue details the history of the department and its future directions, and highlights four faculty members doing research on the molecular basis of medicine.
The Tradition of Excellence Continues
Today, the tradition of excellence continues throughout the department. The state-of-the-art Edward A. Doisy Research Center is now home to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Completed in 2007, the Research Center cost $82 million to complete, is ten stories tall, and totals over 206,000 sq. ft. of research space. Scientific research performed in the research center focuses on five areas: cancer, liver disease, heart and lung disease, aging, and vaccine development.
The exceptional faculty and staff in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with many other researchers at Saint Louis University have access to some of the most cutting edge facilities and resources anywhere.
Find Out More
There’s much more to learn about the research performed in the department and in collaboration with other researchers all over the world. Continue browsing our site to better understand the work going on in our department.