January 2010

University of Oregon’s Institute of Molecular Biology Celebrates 50 Years

Today, the institute has 23 active faculty members, housed in contiguous facilities in the university’s science complex. Everyone has access to proteomics, genomics, DNA sequencing and histology laboratories; electron and confocal microscopes; facilities for biophysical studies, including x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance and on-site production of monoclonal antibodies and transgenic mice.

Looking ahead to the next 50 years, and perhaps trend-spotting for molecular biology in general, Matthews, an institute faculty member since 1969 and a former director, said, “At the time that I joined the institute, a major emphasis was on the ‘molecular’ part of ‘molecular biology,’ i.e. on the basic structure and function of biomolecules. To some degree, the physics drove the biology. Now the emphasis is more on the ‘biology’ aspect. I expect this trend to continue. In the future, it will be the biology that will drive the identification of important questions, but techniques from physics will still be a key in solving many of these problems.”

Chris Tachibana (chris.tachibana@gmail.com) is a science writer based in Seattle and Copenhagen. She acknowledges Bruce Bowerman and Sarah Cheesman for assistance with the article.

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