As this article began to take shape, I joked with a colleague along the lines of whether the first word in the title should contain the letter “h”. It is true that there are many fewer ‘Departments of Biochemistry’ in UK universities than existed when I was a student in the 1970s. There are also fewer degree courses that primarily identify themselves as biochemical. The same could be said of other traditional disciplines such as physiology and pharmacology, whose existence in separate departments was once assured by the need to teach these subjects in the traditional pre-clinical training of medical students. Many of these departments are now amalgamated into larger units following the adoption of the new medical curriculum and the development of the ability to research the basic processes of life across traditional disciplines.

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