The Biology Department is proud to host the John M. Buchanan Lecture, commemorating Dr. Buchanan's many years of service to the Biology Department and the field of biochemistry.
Dr. Buchanan came to MIT from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953 to become the head of the then-new Division of Biochemistry in the Department of Biology. The creation of the Division marked an "important extension of the Institute's activities in the biological field", according to the article written in the MIT Tech in October, 1952. The Division was responsible for teaching and research in biochemistry at all the levels of the Department; undergrad, grad, and post-doctoral. The Division was allotted laboratories and space in the building then occupied by Biology, the John Thompson Dorrance Laboratories of Biology and Food Technology.
The article quoted then-head of the Department, Dr. Francis O. Schmitt: "Professor Buchanan's training and experience especially qualify him for this important post at the Institute. He is widely known for his researches in the biosynthesis of biological compounds, particularly the purines and glycogen, and he has also made important contributions in the isolation and purification of enzymes."
The Tech later noted that under Dr. Buchanan's leadership, the "quality and quantity of biochemistry at MIT increased remarkably, and in 1966, MIT was listed among the top six universities in the United States in the 'distinguished' category in biochemistry, in a study published by the American Council on Education."
Dr. Buchanan was honored in 1966 as the first John and Dorothy Wilson Professor at MIT.
Dr. Buchanan passed away on June 25, 2007.