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.