The Foundation Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne, William John Young, was appointed in 1938. Professor Young and Arthur Harden achieved international recognition for their roles in discovering the pathway of glycolysis, the major means of glucose metabolism in virtually all organisms.

The second professor and head of the School of Biochemistry, Victor Martin Trikojus, held the position from 1943 to 1968. Professor Trikojus showed visionary leadership in overseeing the design and construction on Medical Road of the Russell Grimwade School of Biochemistry, the first building in Australia dedicated to the discipline of biochemistry. The building was demolished in 2008 to make way for the new Australian Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health Research.

Researchers from the department moved into new laboratories at the university's Bio21 Institute soon after it opened in 2005.

The department retains administration and teaching staff, and student laboratories, in the Medical Building on the main Parkville campus of the university.