The University of Calabar started originally as a campus of University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1973/74 session with 154 students. In October 1976 it was accorded the status of a full fledge University with three Faculties namely, Arts, Science and Social Sciences. Two years later (1978/79 session) Medical school now, College of Medical Sciences, was established. The first provost was Professor A. O. Williams. The college office and basic medical sciences department were in temporary building on the north eastern end of the campus. Development of basic medical sciences was rapid and recognition was granted by the Nigerian Medical Council before the first group of medical students were due to sit for the part 1 (Basic Medical Science) examination in 1980.
The Biochemistry Department which was one of the Departments in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences thus started functioning in the medical school building in October, 1978. regular classes commenced on November 15, 1978 with the first batch of 39 MBBCH students. The course of instruction consisted of lectures, practical and tutorials. The Department started with four academic staff members including Professor GYN Lyer, an expatriate from India as the Head of the Department on 7th February, 1979. Until then, Professor O. U. Eka was Acting Head and the founding Professor in the Department. The other two academic staff members were Dr. A. A. Akintonwa (reader) and Dr. E. T. Ifon (Lecturer). The pioneer technologists of the Department were Messrs. W.H. Blankson (an expatriate from Ghana) appointed principal technologist, Mr. C. I. O. Abam Technologist II. Others were Mr. E. B. Umana who joined as technologist II from Ahmadu Bello University and Mr. P. O. Bassey – Technologist II.
The B.Sc. Biochemistry programme started in 1980 with an enrollment of two students viz; Messrs U. F. Udo, and U.F. Ota. Following the take off the B.Sc. programme, the post graduate course leading to M.Sc., M.Phil and Ph.D were instituted later in 1980. Biochemistry Department thus became the leading department and the first in the college of medical sciences to commence the post graduate programmes. The first Ph.D. student Lawrence. E. Ilouno graduated in 1983.