First Alumni Event Proves a Great Success

Visitors enjoying the Department's first alumni event

Visitors enjoying the Department's first alumni event

The new Biochemistry building provided the perfect setting for the Department's first alumni event on June 25th.

More than 200 former undergraduate and postgraduate students travelled from around the country to join current departmental members for a memorable evening of speeches, tours and chat.

Most came along because they were intrigued by the prospect of seeing inside the new building as well as the possibility of catching up with other students and teachers from their Oxford days.

Visitors spanned all ages, with some going back over 50 years, more than a decade before even the 'old Biochemistry', or Krebs Tower, was built. Later this year, the Tower, considered by some to be a blot on the beautiful Oxford skyline, will be demolished, having housed the Department from 1963 to 2008.

Professor Kim Nasmyth, Head of the Department, welcomed visitors 'to a place which will be a part of undergraduate education'. He also emphasised the importance of recruiting more postgraduates, 'because they are the driving force of much discovery in places like this.'

Being shown round the new building

Being shown round the new building

Professor Sir Paul Nurse, President of Rockefeller University in New York and a former Professor in the Department, talked about the Department making an important contribution towards a better understanding of health and disease and also to the development of wealth. 'Understanding how life works,' he added, 'has got to be one of the great objectives of the 21st Century.'

The Chancellor of the University, Lord Patten, gave the final speech of the evening. He spoke of the building as 'the jewel in the University's crown', where research was being pursued at the highest international level.

The unique open design of the building's atrium

The unique open design of the building's atrium

Current departmental members then took groups on tours of the building. This was an excellent chance for visitors to hear about current work in the Department and see how researchers are using the building.

Talking to some of the people present, it was clear that Oxford Biochemistry graduates have moved into all walks of life. The training that they received has enabled them to pursue a broad range of different careers, many of them in areas outside the field of Biochemistry.

The most fondly remembered and talked about feature of the Tower building was the 'paternoster', a passenger lift consisting of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down without stopping. This allowed people to move between floors easily and quickly, facilitating interactions between research groups.

Health and safety put paid to the paternoster, but the new Biochemistry building, with its open atrium, criss-crossing stairways and inviting sofas, clearly has no need for such a feature.


Alumni Stories:

I'm a postdoc at Southamp-
ton University researching
into Huntingdon's Disease...
Read More

We were amongst the very
first Biochemistry under-
graduates. I watched them
build the Tower block...
Read More

I was an undergraduate here
and then I did my D.Phil.
from 1967 to 1970 with
Ian Walker, one of the
departmental lecturers...
Read More





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