The discovery that the laws of nature which determined the movement of matter were also applicable in living things led to the rapid growth of Biochemistry as one of the major Sciences of modern times. That the same chemical reactions in vitro can occur in organisms to generate chemical energy to drive the sustenance and evolutionary development of organisms led to the discovery and illumination of various metabolic pathways. Proteins, Carbohydrates and Lipids consumed as food items from the environment are broken down to various intermediates and products that are used by organisms to maintain regular homeostasis, as well as the use and storage of chemical energy through the High energy (anhydride) bonds of Adenosine-tri-phosphate (ATP). A greater insight into the structure and function of various macromolecules such as haemoglobin, insulin, enzymes and nucleic acids — their fascinating dual roles in diseases hereditary, transmission, transcription, regulation and translation — have opened up new and unprecedented vistas for modern industry.
For students, lecturers and researchers in the University of Nigeria, Department of Biochemistry, we have never lost site that Biochemistry truly reveals the inter dependence of matter, organisms, and their environment. This unity of matter lay a great sense of responsibility on humanity to take good care of the environment.
While the objectives of the Department of Biochemistry remain to ensure that our students are taught the core knowledge of Biochemistry from the more philosophical quest on the origin of life and research practices up to, its present frontiers, that is limited by available financial and technological resources, the Department — its academic staff, students and technical staff — strongly recognize the central role of Biochemistry to national industrialization, the transformation of the environment towards a life – friendly and greener economy. Indeed, Biochemistry does have a key role in the reduction of poverty, the elimination of hunger and above all maintaining a healthy population devoid of the havoc of infections and controllable genetic diseases.
For instance, through its research activities, the Department had not only invented a rapid means of screening sickle cell genotypes but potential drugs which can reduce sickle cell crisis by interfering and reducing the degree of hydrophobic bonding among sickle haemoglobin molecules. Research efforts are also in progress to test and determine the antisickling potentials of a variety of local plant extracts and some of their derived compounds. Other areas of on-going research include the Biochemistry of the soil and locally significant micro-organisms, the effect of various pollutants and hydro carbon compounds on the environment and organisms, etc.
Also our research and teaching staff on sabbatical recently participated in the discovery of an ultrasensitive method for the detection and diagnosis of Prion diseases such as Mad Cow Disease, Scrapie and CJD, published in a World Leading Research Journal, Nature Methods. At present in Nigeria, and much of Africa, Biochemistry is still in its infant stage of development.
By anchoring itself in the development of its teaching and research staff, to be second to none in the country while it remains focused and committed in training students in the core subjects and skills in Biochemistry, the Department aims at contributing in the building of a National Labour Force that can add value that is significant to our present and future effort on industrialization which would pale all past national efforts into insignificance.