Institute of Biochemistry / History

The Institute of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry was born out of the division of the Institute of Biochemical Technology, Food Chemistry and Microchemistry of the former School of Technology Graz. Together with all the other chemistry institutes, it was located in the old Chemistry Building on Baron MANDELL's ground, corner Technikerstrasse-Mandellstrasse.

1929 The Institute of Technical Biochemistry and Microbiology moved to the building of the Fürstlich-Dietrichstein-Stiftung, Schlögelgasse 9, in which all the Bio-Sciences were then concentrated.

1945 Georg GORBACH - initially in the rank of a docent and soon thereafter as a.o. Professor - took over to lead the institute. The institute was renamed Institute of Biochemical Technology and Food Chemistry.

1948 G. GORBACH was nominated full professor and head of the institute. In succession of the famous Graz School of Microchemistry founded by PREGL and EMICH, Prof. GORBACH was one of the most prominent and active leaders in the field of microchemistry. In the field of microbiology, the effects of inhibitors and other bioactive compounds on living beings, most notably microorganisms, were analyzed. In nutritional sciences, the effects of vitamins and trace elements were studied and new methods for food manufacturing at an industrial scale were developed. After World War II, questions of water quality and waste water disposal became urgent; hence, the group of the future Prof. K. STUNDL, which at that time was part of the institute, was gaining importance. In addition, a division to fight dry-rot supervised by Dr. KUNZE and after his demise by H. SALOMON, was also affiliated with the institute.

1955 In honor of the founder of microchemistry and former professor of the Technical University Graz, the extended laboratory was called EMICH-Laboratories. At the same time, the institute was renamed Institute of Biochemical Technology, Food Chemistry and Microchemistry.

Due to the broad working area of the institute, the teaching duties were substantial. Lectures and laboratory courses were held in biochemistry, biochemical technology, food chemistry and food technology, technical microscopy and microchemistry. In addition, the institute covered technical microbiology together with biological and bacteriological analysis - with the exception of pathogenic microorganisms - and a lecture in organic raw material sciences.

1970 After the decease of Prof. GORBACH, Prof. GRUBITSCH was appointed head of the institute. Towards the end of the sixties, the division for water and waste water disposal headed by Prof. STUNDL was drawn out of the institute and established as an institute of its own. Prof. SPITZY was nominated professor of general chemistry, micro- and radiochemistry. This division was also drawn out of the mother institute and at the end of the sixties moved to a new building.

1973 Division of the Insitute for Biochemical Technology, Food Technology and Microchemistry took place. At first, Biochemical Technology together with Food Technology formed a new institute now called Institute of Biotechnology and Food Chemistry to which the newly nominated Prof. LAFFERTY was appointed head of the institute.

1973 Dr. F. PALTAUF, docent of the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, was nominated o. professor and head of the newly established Institute of Biochemistry. The interest of Prof. PALTAUF in studying biological membranes and lipids laid the foundation for the future direction of research at the department. G. DAUM, S. D. KOHLWEIN, and A. HERMETTER joined the institute. All three young scientists were given the chance to work as post docs in renowned laboratories in Switzerland and the USA: G. DAUM with the groups of G. Schatz (Basel, Switzerland) and R. Schekman (Berkeley, USA), A. HERMETTER with J.R. Lakowicz (Baltimore, USA) and S. D. KOHLWEIN with S. A. Henry (New York, USA). Consequently, independent research groups specialized in cell biology (G. D.), biophysics (A. H.) and molecular biology (S. D. K.) evolved at the institute in Graz, with the group of Prof. F. PALTAUF still focusing on the chemistry and biochemistry of lipids.

Teaching was always a major task of the institute. Lectures, seminars and laboratory courses in basic biochemistry were complemented by special lectures, seminars, and courses held by the assistants who became docents in 1985 (G. D.), 1987 (A. H.), and 1992 (S. D. K.). Lectures in food chemistry and food technology were held by C. WEBER and H. SALOMON, who were staff members of the institute. Hence the institute was renamed Institute of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry.

1990 The department moved to a new building at Petersgasse 12. Expansion of the size of the individual research groups and the acquisition of new equipment were essential for the institute to participate in novel collaborative efforts at the national and the international level including joint projects (Forschungsschwerpunkte, Spezial-Forschungsbereiche) and EU-projects. Thus, the Institute of Biochemistry, together with partner institutes from the Karl-Franzens-University was the driving force that helped to establish Graz as a center of competence in lipid research.

1993 W. PFANNHAUSER was appointed as professor of food chemistry. Through his own enthusiasm and engagement and that of his collaborators, this new section of the institute rapidly developed and offered students additional opportunities to receive a timely education.

2000 The two sections, biochemistry and food chemistry, being independent of each other with respect to personnel, teaching, and research were separated. The new Insitute of Biochemistry (Head Prof. PALTAUF) and the new Institute of Food Chemistry and Food Technology (Head Prof. PFANNHAUSER) evolved.

2001 F. PALTAUF, who had been full professor of biochemistry and head of the institute for 28 years, retired in September 2001. G. DAUM was elected head of the Institute. In December 2001 S. D. KOHLWEIN was appointed full professor of biochemistry at the Karl-Franzens University Graz and left the Institute of Biochemistry of the TU Graz.

2003 P. MACHEROUX was appointed full professor of biochemistry on 1st Sept. 2003 and head of the Institute of Biochemistry on 1st Jan. 2004. His research interests revolve around topics in the area of protein biochemistry and enzymology which shall strengthen the already existing activities at the Technical University in this field (SFB Biocatalysis & Kplus).

2007 K. ATHENSTAEDT, a long-time associate of Prof. DAUM, received the venia legendi for biochemistry. Karin is the first woman to complete the traditional habilitation at the Institute of Biochemistry

2009 After the retirement of Prof. PFANNHAUSER in 2008, the Institute of Food Chemistry and Technology was disbanded and the research group of Prof. M. MURKOVIC joined the Institute of Biochemistry increasing the number of independent research group to five.