Biochemistry will not have its own panel in the next research assessment exercise, but will be subsumed into the biological sciences unit of assessment instead.
Biochemistry is the only panel to disappear since the 1996 assessment. The decision follows a halving in the number of submissions to the panel between 1992 and 1996 when many biochemists submitted to the biological sciences panel instead.
The Biochemical Society, which represents academic biochemists, supports the move. Chris Skidmore, chairman of the society's policy committee, said:
"Biochemistry is an increasingly important subject at the very base of all biology. For that reason it's very difficult to tease it apart from biology. We believe it is therefore better to see biology as a seamless whole."
The society is lobbying for the biological sciences unit of assessment to have sub-panels to assess the different areas of biology, including biochemistry.
A society spokesman said that many biochemistry departments had been subsumed into large biological sciences departments.
John Rogers, RAE manager, confirmed the move and said exact arrangements had yet to be formalised.