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About us

The Department of Biological Sciences was formed in 2009 (from a merger of the long-established Schools of Biological and Chemical Sciences and Crystallography) and is led by Professor Gabriel Waksman, FMedSci, FRS.

Research and teaching in the department are part of a wider programme through our membership of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), a joint research institute between Birkbeck and University College London (UCL). The work of the ISMB integrates chemical and physical sciences to investigate biological systems, in particular to reveal the molecular basis of protein function. Exploiting this knowledge will increase our understanding of human diseases and allow us to develop better ways to combat them.

Each year the department also takes part in the School's Science Week and supports the Bernal Lecture and the Rosalind Franklin Lecture.

We're delighted to announce that we've achieved an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our commitment to gender equality - read more about the news story.

The department has a Gender Equality ChampionDr Jonathan Slater. [The role, and the support offered, is outlined on the department's Equality and Diversity page on the Staff intranet - requires login.]

If you're interested in working for us, refer to the current vacancies page on the Birkbeck college site.

A diverse range of courses to meet your study needs

  • We offer courses at all levels, from certificates right up to PhD study. You can choose from biology, analytical chemistry, bioinformatics and crystallography, among other subjects.
    Find out more about our full range of courses or contact us to discuss how our programmes can meet your study and career needs.
  • We also specialise in distance learning courses, where all teaching is carried out online.

Our research has international impact

  • In the RAE 2008, 85% of our research was recognised as having international impact, with 15% receiving the highest possible rating of world-leading.
  • We conduct world-class research in the areas of: biophysics, cell biology, chemical biology, computational biology, microbiology, and structural biology.
    Read about some of our recent research highlights.

Expert academics and leading researchers

  • Our academic staff, experts across the field of biological sciences, are involved in research projects which include: investigations into nanomachines, understanding the role of chaperone proteins, cell processes and interactions, and the part played by genome sequencing in drug development. Many of these projects make use of structural biology techniques and the department has a long history of achievements in this field.

* Note: If you encounter a Server error message when going to policy pages on the Birkbeck HR website, this is because you're currently logged in to another Birkbeck Plone site and this creates a conflict with the access rights on the HR site. The current workaround (a permanent fix is some way off since this involves migrating all HR web pages into the new web template) is to copy the URL of the page you're trying to access and then pasting it into a new web browser window where you're not currently logged in to any Birkbeck site. For example, if you're viewing the Biological Sciences intranet in Firefox then open up a new browser window in Chrome and paste the URL of the HR page into that browser - you should then be able to view the HR page/rest of the HR site without errors.

Birkbeck biologist Professor Bhakta is working with academic and research institutes across India to share expertise on developing new potential antibiotic leads.

The British made rover, due to roam the surface of Mars in 2021, has been named after scientist Rosalind Franklin who worked at Birkbeck in the 1950s.

The Department of Biological Sciences welcomed crystallography alumni back to the College in an evening of celebration that considered the past, present and future of science at Birkbeck.