Mark O’Brian, the new chair of biochemistry, is a respected teacher and NIH-funded researcher who has been a departmental faculty member since 1988.

O’Brian Named Biochemistry Chair

Published June 1, 2015

story by nicole peradotto

Mark R. O’Brian, PhD, University at Buffalo professor of biochemistry, has been named the department’s chair.

Buffalo Native Joined Department in ’88

An outstanding researcher and educator, O’Brian studies the coordinated control of nutritional stress responses in bacteria.

A Buffalo native, O’Brian received his PhD in biology from the Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed postdoctoral training. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the State University of New York at Albany.

O’Brian joined the UB Department of Biochemistry in 1988 as an assistant professor, rising to the rank of professor in 1999.

He has been serving as the department’s interim chair since the summer of 2013.

Researches Cellular Maintenance of Iron Homeostasis

An outstanding researcher and educator, O’Brian studies the coordinated control of nutritional stress responses in bacteria.

He identified a novel mechanism for control of iron-responsive gene expression in Bradyrhizobium japonicum, a bacterium that serves as a model organism for studying a large taxonomic group important to pathogenesis and symbiosis.

His work has contributed to our understanding of this regulatory mechanism, including how it allows differential control of iron-responsive genes and how iron metabolism coordinates with other cellular processes.

O’Brian’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Recognized for Sustained Scholarly Achievement

O’Brian has received the UB Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievement and an American Society for Microbiology International Professorship.

A national and international lecturer, he has served on the editorial boards of leading scientific journals in his field, including Plant Physiology and Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Honored for Teaching, Mentoring

O’Brian upholds the biochemistry department’s teaching mission by teaching and mentoring students from undergraduates to postdoctoral associates. His PhD student mentees have won numerous awards and recognition for research excellence.

He has served on dozens of PhD thesis committees at UB and has served as an external dissertation examiner in Sweden, Ireland and Canada.

He received the Siegel Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1997 and is a six-time recipient of the Siegel committee’s Commendation for Excellence in Teaching.

Clarifying Science for Public

O’Brian is committed to the public understanding of science. He has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times on topics related to science and society.

Locally, he has appeared on Channel 4 News, and his articles have been featured in the Buffalo News.