Our Institute was founded in 1945 as the Second Department of Medical Chemistry from the original Department of Medical Chemistry which belonged to the German Faculty of Medicine. Since that time it has been located in the same historical building, U Nemocnice 5. In 1972 the name of the department was changed, in line with the development of medical sciences, to the Second Department of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry. Research activities have been strongly dedicated to experimental oncology for more than 40 years. At present, the main focus is given to molecular and cellular biology approaches in the study of oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes and membrane proteins in relevance to different experimental and human solid tumors. This research trend led to the change of the department’s name to Department of Biochemistry and Experimental Oncology in June 2002. The Laboratory of Cancer Cell Biology (LCCB) has been an integral part of the department since 2002. LCCB is a joint venture project of the Charles University - 1st Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Physiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
In the beginning of 20th century in this department were educated and worked people who markedly contributed to our knowledge about the basic biochemical and physiological processes:
Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896 – 1984) and his wife Gerta Theresa Cori, née. Radnitz (1896 – 1957) were born in Prague. They met each other during their medical studies in the German Faculty of Medicine. The Cori's collaborated in most of their research work, commencing in their student days. It stemmed from their mutual interest in the preclinical sciences. Their first joint paper resulted from an immunological study of the complement of human serum. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1947 for their discovery of the course of catalytic conversion of glycogen
Hans Hugo Bruno Selye (1907 – 1982) – the Austro-Hungarian endocrinologist was born in Vienna and graduated in Prague’s German Faculty of Medicine. Selye is known as "the father of stress" - author of the adaptation syndrome and stress reaction theories. Dr. Selye's own definition of stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand.
The new generation of Czech biochemists carries on this “genius loci” in dignified way after World War II:
Antonin Hamsik (1878 – 1963) with his studies of hemoglobin and its derivates; Antonin Felix Richter (1896 – 1979) with his work in the area of body pigments – melanines and Jan Sula (1904 – 1994) with his works concerning chemical cancerogenesis started modern Czech experimental oncology. Jiri Duchon (1927) continued in this trend with the studies of biochemistry of malignant melanoma and melanogenesis. The department belonged to a leading European research group focused on malignant melanoma biochemistry at that time.
The reconstruction and innovation of instrumental facilities and other equipment consequent to research reorientation to cell and molecular biology has been continuing since the middle nineties.To the history of our Institute also belongs the fact that during the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989 the building was the seat of the student strike committee and Civic Forum (Obcanske Forum).