In a move designed to consolidate departments with shared intellectual interests, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will merge with Cellular and Development in the near future.
The concentrations in Biology and Biochemical Sciences will remain unchanged, officials said.
Mangelsdorf Professor of Natural Sciences J. Woodland Hastings who is head tutor for biology concentrators, said overlapping interests and practices forced the move.
"It's intellectually coherent for the two to be a single department," Hastings said. "At some point we discovered we were interested in the same things."
Under the change, the Cellular and development Biology Department, originally included in the biology concentration, will join the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to form the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Hastings said the change will provide moreleeway for biology and biochemistry concentrators.
"I don't think it will change students'concentrations except by having more options foradvisors and thesis research," Hastings said.
Professor of Biology William M. Gelbart saidthe move would also make it easier to hirefaculty.
"Over the years, we made appointments whichcould have been just as easily made in eitherdepartments," Gelbart said. "The overlap was solarge that it reached a point where it wasintellectually hard to justify why they should beseparate entities."
Higgins Professor of Biochemistry GuidoGuidotti agreed.
"Concerns of planning the future of cellularbiological sciences at Harvard turns into aquestion of how best to engage in hiring facultyto expand the field, and it's better to have oneunit working together than two," Guidotti said.
The new department is to be headed by Professorof Biochemistry and Biophysics Don C. Wiley, thecurrent chair of the Biochemistry and MolecularBiology Department.
The decision had been a topic of discussion fora number of years, professors interviewed said.
James E. Davis, lecturer on bio-chemistry,molecular biology and chemistry, said the mergerof two departments' graduate programs four yearsago led them to propose a similar change forundergraduates.
"It was the first logical step towardcooperation designed all along to eventually leadto a merger," Davis said. "There had been a numberof joint faculty meetings and a joint facultyretreat since then.
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