The Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology (BMI) was created in 1998 as part of a re-structuring of the basic science departments in the Faculty of Medicine, and resulted when two departments were merged.

Where it all began

The original department of Biochemistry was established when the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine was founded in 1945, and the Department of Bacteriology and Preventative Medicine followed shortly after in 1948.

The first Chair of the Department of Biochemistry was Dr. V. Vlassopoulos. Dr. J. Ettori was Chair from 1949 to 1961, when Dr. A. D'Iorio assumed this position. Until this point, the focus of the department had been teaching of medical students, with some members of the Department also teaching in the Faculty of Science with colleagues from Biology and Chemistry. It was under Dr. D'Iorio's leadership that the Department became formally responsible for biochemistry teaching in both Faculties, and also expanded to include a research component.

During the same period, Dr. T.W.M. Cameron, a visiting professor from Montreal, and Dr. R. Gibbons, were the first members of the Department of Bacteriology and Preventative Medicine, which ultimately became the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Gibbons was Chair until 1965, when Dr. J. Westwood replaced him.

As research activities increased in the Faculty of Medicine, graduate studies programs were established in both Biochemistry (BCH) and Microbiology and Immunology (MIC) during the early 1960's. The first two students graduating from the Microbiology and Immunology program were Drs. Peggy Johnson-Lussenberg and Syed Sattar, both of whom went on to become faculty members in the department.

Dr. D. Layne assumed the BCH Chair's position in 1969, and a full undergraduate program in Biochemistry was then implemented in the Faculty of Science. Dr. Jean Himms-Hagen succeeded Donald Layne as Chair when he became Vice-Dean of Medicine in 1975. Once again the department expanded with the introduction of a program in Dietetics/Nutrition, under the direction of Dr. Nicole Begin-Heick. In 1982, the Faculty of Medicine moved to Roger Guindon Hall, although about half of the members of the Biochemistry department remained on the main campus. Between 1985 and 1998, Drs. M. Kates, H. Kaplan, P. Anderson and D. Williamson served as Chairs or Interim Chairs.

Dr. C-Y. Kang was named as Chair of Microbiology and Immunology in 1982, and his focus was strengthening the virology component of the department. He remained until 1992, when Dr. J-A. Dillon took the helm. It was during her term as Chair that the new BMI department was established. She and then Dr. K. Dimock served as interim chairs of BMI before Dr. Z. Yao became Chair of the new Department in 2002.

Past core members of BMI

  • Peter Anderson (retired)
  • Earl Brown (emeritus)
  • Danielle Carrier (Dept. of Chemistry, UOttawa)
  • Alvin Chan (deceased)
  • Jo Anne Dillon, Interim Chair 1998-2001 (U. of Saskatchewan)
  • Francisco Diaz-Mitoma (Advanced Medical Research Institute, Sudbury)
  • Ken Dimock, Interim Chair 2001-2003 (retired)
  • Steve Evans (U. Victoria)
  • Lionel Filion (retired)
  • Jean Himms-Hagen (deceased)
  • Leonard Kleine (retired)
  • Odette Laneuville (currently Dept. of Biology)
  • Vas Mezl (retired)
  • John Patrick (unknown)
  • Syed Sattar (emeritus)
  • Silvia Vidal (McGill U.)
  • John Webb (BC Cancer Agency)
  • Dennis Williamson (retired)
  • Kathryn Wright (retired)

History of founding departments

Chairs: Department of Microbiology and Immunology

1948–1965 Dr. R. J. Gibbons (as Department of Bacteriology and Preventative Medicine)
1966–1982 Dr. J C. N. Westwood
1982–1992 Dr. C.Y Kang
1992–1998 Dr. J. R. Dillon

Past core members of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology

  • Stanislaw Bobra
  • Armand Lamberti
  • Giacomo Messore
  • Andrew Mackenzie
  • Noni MacDonald
  • Richard Bonin
  • Russel Siboo
  • Max Richter
  • Edmund Rossier
  • Edgar Perry
  • CM Johnson-Lussenberg
  • John J. Day
  • Maurice Beaulieu
  • Robert Elder
  • Jack Karsh
  • Rajul Iyer
  • Raina Fyson
  • Donald Menzies

Chairs: Department of Biochemistry

1945–1946 Dr. V. Vlassopoulos
1946–1948 Acting Chairs; Dr. D. Hingerty & Dr. M. Murnaghan
1949–1961 Dr. J. Ettori
1961–1969 Dr. A. D'Iorio
1969–1975 Dr. D. Layne
1975–1982 Dr. J. Himms-Hagen (Interim Chair from 1975-1977)
1982–1985 Dr. M. Kates
1985–1987 Dr. H. Kaplan
1987–1998 Interim Chairs: Dr. P. Anderson, Dr. D. Williamson

Past core members of BCH

  • Jean Armstrong
  • Nicole Bégin-Heick
  • N. Leo Benoiton
  • Antoine D'Iorio
  • Peter Fitt
  • Claude Godin
  • Paul Hagen
  • Danin Hingerty
  • Harvey Kaplan
  • Charalampos Mavrides
  • Guy Nantel
  • Woo Ki Paik
  • W.J. Poznanski
  • Pierre Proulx
  • Michael Ryan
  • Peter Stanley
  • Martin Tenniswood
  • JoEllen Welsh
  • Donald R. Whitaker