Overview of the Department of Cell Biology

Overview of the Department of Cell Biology

isabel.jpgThe missions of the Cell Biology Department are to make significant new discoveries in the areas of cell, developmental, and regenerative biology and to educate and train a cadre of young scientist to prepare them to explore these and other areas of biomedical science.

The research topics studied by the department faculty are quite diverse, but generally fall under the broader theme of morphogenesis. Morphogenesis concerns the logic and mechanisms by which biological form and structure are generated and maintained; it is also important for understanding how cells and tissues degenerate in various disease states. We address the problem of biological form at many levels, from the structure and organization of individual cells, through the formation of multicellular arrays and tissues, to the higher order assembly of tissues into organs and even whole embryos and organisms.

At the individual cell level, we explore intracellular transport and motility, organelle dynamics, cell compartmentalization, and cell polarity. At the tissue level, we explore mechanisms of cell migration, cell adhesion, tissue polarity, mechanotransduction, and tissue regeneration. Finally, we study the principles that guide the development of organs, the nervous system, the reproductive system, and whole embryos. In fact, through our emphasis on morphogenesis, we integrate our studies across all these levels of organization, utilizing a combination of advanced imaging, genetic, structural/biochemical, and cellular/molecular approaches. Importantly, these studies create opportunities to address fundamental cell biological mechanisms of diseases, including cancer, birth defects, cognitive impairment, and tissue degeneration.

We make a great effort to share our discoveries and ideas amongst all the members of the many individual laboratories through regular research meetings, a regular seminar series, and numerous graduate courses and colloquia. The Department of Cell Biology is undertaking these endeavors with much excitement and enthusiasm; please join us and take note of our efforts and follow our progress as we explore these areas and make new discoveries.

Barry M. Gumbiner, Professor and Chair
September 2011