Brief Introduction to the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Over the past few decades, there has been extensive interweaving of historical traditions of biochemistry, cellular biology, and genetics. This, in addition to explosive developments in molecular biology, has opened up vast new frontiers in biological and medical science research. A basic understanding of biochemistry and molecular biology has become necessary for scientists actively engaged in biological and medical science research. The Departments of Biochemistry, and Molecular and Cellular Biology were established in 1987 to provide adequate education in these disciplines and to meet the increasing demand of scientists who seek to understand the molecular aspects of the structure, organization and function of living matter. These two departments were integrated as the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1993. The goals of this department are: (1) to provide an adequate and balanced training program, as well as an inductive environment for nurturing of graduate and medical students; (2) to pursue excellence in research and explore new knowledge in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology; and (3) to promote interdisciplinary interactions among basic, applied, and clinical sciences.
As of May 2016, there are 13 full-time faculty members in this department, specializing in different areas of biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology. Specific research projects that are being conducted in different labs include: role of thyroid hormone receptor in gene regulation (Dr. Kwang-Huei Lin); mechanism of anticancer resistance and role of GAS genes in cell differentiation (Dr. Chuck C. K. Chao); regulation of telomerase expression in human cells (Dr. Tzu-Chien V. Wang); antiviral development and mechanistic study of enterovirus 71 and influenza virus (Dr. Jim-Tong Horng); role of PAK in apoptosis; proteomics of cancer (Dr. Jau-Song Yu); regulation of EGF signaling in development and functional analysis of human genes in Drosophila (Dr. Li-Mei Pai); proteomics (Dr. Kun-Yi Chien); neurodevelopment in the zebrafish (Dr. Yi-Chuan Cheng); applications of proteomics in biomarker discovery (Dr. Chia-Jung Yu); autophagy (Dr. Po-Yuan Ke); learning and memory in Drosophila (Dr. Chia-Lin Wu) and application of next generation sequencing (NGS) platforms in cancer transcriptomics (Dr. Hsuan Liu).
Teaching and graduate training
This department offers theoretical biochemistry and biochemistry laboratory courses for undergraduates. It also provides a graduate training program for the Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences. This training program consists of a core curriculum (biochemistry, molecular biology and cellular biology) and many elective courses that are designed to provide students with a coherent understanding of the basics, as well as the experimental approaches that are commonly used in molecular studies. Training in research emphasizes on self-directed problem identification and solving. Seminars and thesis are required for all students as part of their training. Exposure to broad biomedical disciplines and ability to conduct research independently are prerequisites for Ph.D. candidates. It is anticipated that students trained through our program will be highly competent in conducting independent biomedical research.
Aims and outlooks
While the short-term aim of this program is to train competent biomedical researchers urgently needed for the development of biotechnology in Taiwan for the 21st century, our long-term aims are to achieve excellence in research and to explore new avenues in molecular and cellular biology of development (neuron and embryo) and diseases (cancers and viral infections). With the completion of the human genome project, major challenges lie ahead in unraveling the biology of immense sequence data. Budding new technologies such as DNA microarrays, bioinformatics, proteomics, NGS, and animal models will undoubtedly become new and powerful tools for analyzing the regulation and function of genes in the future. We plan to play a key role in the development of these technologies and incorporate the same in our training program.