The Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC) was established at Washington State University in 1980 to pursue fundamental research in the molecular biology and biochemistry of plants. Work at the IBC focuses on basic plant science with an emphasis on plant derived products synthesis, determinants of plant architecture, bioenergetics, and plant-microbe interacts. The research outcomes have potential applications in agricultural biotechnology, bioenergy, and medicine.

For more information about specific research programs in the IBC, please call us at (509) 335-8382, fax to (509) 335-7643 or email us at instbiolchem@wsu.edu.

IBC News and Updates



Most children have a phase where they dream of the far reaches of the universe and working for NASA. Norman Lewis particpated in a NASA outreach project that enabled seventh grade students at McCaffrey Middle School to partipate in a project to begin to reveal how biology changes away from Earth’s gravity. (full article)




Professor Mark Lange assumes the presidency of the Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA) in August 2017.  PSNA is a nonprofit scientific organization whose membership is open to anyone with an interest in phytochemistry and the role of plant substances in related fields. The PSNA’s mission is to encourage and stimulate research on the chemistry and biochemistry of plant constituents, their effects upon plant and animal physiology and pathology, and their industrial importance and utilization.


Drought-Resistant Wheat, Soybeans WSU’s Aim in USDA Grant Research
PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University seek to improve drought-resistant crops, thanks to more than $900,000 in funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The two projects at WSU were among 54 grants awarded for plant research, totaling more than $17 million, announced May 25 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.

President’s Leadership Winners Honored for Mentorship, Volunteerism
Mentors, volunteers and leaders in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences have earned recognition for how they change the world and help their community.

Eleven CAHNRS staff and faculty members, undergraduates and graduate students were presented with the Leadership and Engagement Award of Distinction (LEAD) from the President of Washington State University, April 18 at Pullman’s Compton Union Building.

Presented jointly by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement and the Office of Student Involvement, the President’s Award for Leadership and Engagement honors people who show exceptional service, involvement, mentoring, leadership and social change in the university and their community.

Two from CAHNRS received Faculty and Staff awards: Marwa Sanad, research associate in the Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC), and Debbie Christel, assistant professor in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles (AMDT).

Scientists Discover New Method to Harness Energy
PULLMAN, Wash. – A Washington State University professor is part of a team that has unraveled the mechanism of a process that couples chemical reactions in a unique way that conserves energy and prevents loss. The process – which maximizes the efficiency of chemical reactions at the molecular level – could affect everything from synthetic biology to fuel and chemical production.

Tree Growth Model Assists Breeding for More Wood
PULLMAN, Wash. – A meeting in a forest between a biologist and a mathematician could lead to thicker, faster growing trees.

“Mathematicians like translating biological processes into numbers,” said Andrei Smertenko, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. “I’m a biologist, and I want to help grow stronger, better trees.”

Understanding Energy for More Efficient Agriculture
PULLMAN, Wash. – When you eat lunch, you might be thinking about work but probably just are enjoying the taste. John Peters is thinking about metabolism in the context of agriculture and energy.

Peters is the new director of the Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC) at Washington State University and a renowned biochemist who wants to know how energy is produced at a fundamental level.

WSU Grant Will Help Fight Devastating Citrus Disease
PULLMAN, Wash. – Three Washington State University researchers have received a $2.1 million grant to help save the U.S. and global citrus industry. They will develop methods of growing a citrus-destroying bacteria so that strategies to fight the disease it causes can be pursued.

Huánglóngbìng, or HLB, is also called “citrus greening disease,” and it is destroying orange, grapefruit and lemon trees around the world. Scientists haven’t been able to grow and maintain cultures of the bacterium that causes the disease.

“The simple answers didn’t work and we need a way to fight this,” said biochemist David Gang, a fellow in WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. John W. Peters
Professor and Director

Helen Miller
Administrative Manager

Teresa Beckvold
Principal Assistant

Julie Thayer
Greenhouse Manager