Fragments of Memories from the Development and History of the Department of Biochemistry.     

The Department of Biochemistry is one of the youngest departments in the field of chemistry at the Faculty of Science, Palacký University in Olomouc. The actual history, however, dates back to the seventies of the last century. Until then, the basic biochemistry course was lectured by external teachers, e.g. Prof. František Šantavý from Faculty of Medicine and Assoc. Prof. Miloslav Kaláb from Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry of Faculty Hospital in Olomouc.

The discipline of biochemistry – its research and teaching activities - formed part of the Department of Analytical and Organic Chemistry. For a short period of time it existed as the Section of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, led by Prof. Jan Slouka, an outstanding organic chemist who also taught biochemistry courses for several years.

Pavel Peč, a young assistant professor, completed his long-term internship in Brno at the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science and in 1977 he started teaching the biochemistry course at the Department of Analytical and Organic Chemistry in Olomouc. Biochemistry tutorial labs were taught in cooperation with other members of the Section of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry – Dr. Miloslav Holzer and Dr. Antonín Haviger. The research was focused on enzymes, specifically diaminoxidases isolated from pea shoots and pork kidneys.

In 1987, Ludmila Zajoncová joined the Section of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry and two years later in 1989, so did Dr. Ivo Frébort. They were both graduates of Analytical Chemistry at Palacký University. The biochemistry group expanded in the nineties as well. Two graduates from the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University joined the team. Dr. Lenka Luhová (1992 ) and Mgr. Marek Šebela (1994 ). Dr. Ivo Frébort completed a five-year post-doctoral study at the University of Yamaguchi (Japan), where he successfully studied fungal aminoxidases under the supervision of Prof. O. Adachi. An important moment in the development of Biochemistry at Palacký University was involvement in the project TEMPUS (1995), led by professor Jan Káš from the Department of Food and Biochemical Technology, Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague. The project initiated the professional cooperation with biochemical laboratories at the University of Luton (England), University of Bayreuth (Germany), University of Paris - Grignon and the University of Salamanca (Spain).

Fundamental changes in the development of the Section of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry happened in 1992. The Faculty of Science, Palacký University took over the premises of the Crop Breeding Research Institute in Olomouc- Holice. The Biochemistry group acquired enough room for the establishment of teaching and research laboratories. Another historic milestone was reached in 1996 when the Department of Biochemistry was founded. Assoc. Prof. Pavel Peč became the Head of the Department and continued in this position for next ten years. The research team of the Department of Biochemistry gradually expanded to other members: Mgr. Petr Galuszka (1997) a graduate of Biology and Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Palacký University, Dr. Marek Petřivalský (1999) a graduate of the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Mgr. Petr Tarkowský, Ph.D. (2005) a graduate of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Palacký University and Mgr. David Kopečný (2006). The professional development of teachers, researchers and lecturers is demonstrated by obtaining a number of titles both in the field of research and teaching: Dr. Pavel Peč - Professor (1997) , Dr. Ivo Frébort - Professor (2005) , Dr. Marek Šebela - Professor (2007) , Dr. Lenka Luhová - Associate Professor (2003) , Dr. Petr Galuszka - Associate Professor (2006), Dr. Ludmila Zajoncová - Associate Professor (2009), Dr. Petr Tarkowski - Associate Professor (2011), Dr. Marek Petřivalský - Associate Professor (2013). In 2013 a graduate of Analytical Chemistry Dr. David Kopečný and graduates from Master's and doctoral degrees in biochemistry, Dr. Mária Šmehilová, Dr. Jana Piterková and Mgr. Lucie Kubienová joined the Department of Biochemistry as teaching assistants.

The rapid development of modern molecular biology methods and their intensive introduction to teaching and research initiated the idea to establish the Section of Molecular Biology (2002) as part of the Department of Biochemistry. Prof. Ivo Frébort became the head of this Section. In 2004 the Section of Molecular Biology moved to new research and teaching laboratories in the newly refurbished building complex in Olomouc - Holice. In 2006 Prof. Marek Šebela was named as the Head of Department and later, in 2012, Assoc. Prof. Lenka Luhová took over his position.

In 1999, the Department of Biochemistry accredited the Biochemistry study programme in both Bachelor and Master studies and also in doctoral studies. All types of study programmes are also accredited in English. The Department of Biochemistry gained an accreditation of appointment for the research titles of Associated Professors and Professors of biochemistry.

Until 2013, a great number of students have graduated in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Science, Palacký University, Olomouc: 152 in the Bachelor programme 146 in the Master programme and 16 Ph.D. students. In 2012, the Department of Biochemistry received an accreditation of a new study programme of Bioinformatics for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. 

In 2012, the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research (CRH) was established. It includes a number of biological, biochemical and biotechnological centres associated with Palacký University and the Haná region. Actually, Prof. Ivo Frébort serves as the Director of CRH and many members from the Department of Biochemistry started to work in the newly built laboratories, namely Prof. Marek Šebela, Assoc. Prof. Petr Tarkowski and Dr. David Kopečný in the Laboratory of Protein Biochemistry and Proteomics and Prof. Ivo Frébort and Assoc. Prof. Petr Galuszka in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. However, they also continue to be actively involved in teaching at the Department of Biochemistry.