Cell Biology

Cell biology faculty members in MCDB investigate the structure and function of cells and how cellular activity couples external/internal signals to various physiological and pathological events. Current research topics include microtubule dynamics, membrane trafficking, protein/lipid glycosylation, cell adhesion/migration, cell polarity, cell signaling, fertilization, cell differentiation, tumorigenesis/cancer metastasis, programmed cell death, mRNA translocation/local protein synthesis, and pathogen-host interaction. Investigators employ a wide variety of model systems ranging from unicellular eukaryotes and cultured cells, to flies, worms, plants, and animals, bringing together a myriad of scientific approaches including molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, microscopy, computer modeling, and nanotechnology. These combined areas of expertise create a stimulating and rich integrative research environment. Moreover, active collaborations among different research groups generate a more extensive and synergistic output.


Diego Acosta-Alvear

Cells employ complex mechanisms to maintain homeostasis. If homeostasis cannot be restored, apoptosis is initiated to eliminate injured cells for the benefit of the organism. This dichotomy places these homeostatic mechanisms -collectively known as cellular stress responses- at the core of the survival versus death decision. In disease, abnormal cells can remodel their stress responses to gain a survival advantage or evade apoptosis.

Carolina Arias

Our lab focuses on understanding virus-host interactions. Because of the strict dependence of viruses on the molecular machineries of their hosts, complex strategies have evolved to enable viruses to control the cell to their advantage. In a way, viruses can be thought of as molecular tinkerers that became engineers. As such, viruses provide unique opportunities to peer into the inner workings of the cell: by understanding the mechanisms by which viruses control their host cells, we get valuable insights into basic cell biology.

Dennis Clegg

Human stem cell research; Molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation; Derivation of ocular cells from stem cells; Soft tissue regeneration.

Anthony De Tomaso

Molecular mechanisms of self/non-self recognition in non-vertebrates; characterization of stem cells and development processes underlying regeneration and aging.

Stuart Feinstein

Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Neuronal Development; Biochemistry of Neurodegenerative Diseases; Structure, Function and Regulation of the Microtubule Associated Protein, Tau; Cytoskeletal Regulation.

Steven Fisher

Structure and function in the vertebrate retina with an emphasis on mechanisms underlying photoreceptor degeneration and the role of glial cells in normal and injured or diseased retina.

Kathleen Foltz

Cellular and molecular basis of fertilization, egg activation and the egg-to-embryo transition using a variety of marine invertebrates.

Brooke Gardner

Combining biochemistry and cell biology to understand the regulation of membrane-bound organelles.

Kenneth S. Kosik

Neural plasticity including the molecular basis of plasticity, the evolution of synapses, and disease-related impairments of plasticity such as occurs in Alzheimer's disease.

John Lew

Molecular mechanisms of signal transduction; Alzheimer's Disease and other protein aggregation/misfolding diseases; molecular biology, enzymology, and protein structure/function.

Dzwokai Zach Ma

Trafficking regulation of receptors and channels in the nervous system.

Jamey Marth

Nanomedicine in Biomedical Discovery, Diagnosis, and Therapeutics that Target the Molecular and Cellular Origins of Disease.

Craig Montell

A central question in neurobiology is defining the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which animals translate sensory input into behavioral outputs. Our lab is focusing on dissecting how animal behaviors are influenced by changes in temperature, light input, gustatory and olfactory cues, and mechanical forces. To tackle this problem, we are using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, because it allows us to employ a combination of molecular, cellular, biochemical, electrophysiological and genetic approaches to study the link between sensory signaling and animal behavior.

Denise J. Montell

My laboratory uses a combination of molecular, genetic, and state-of-the-art imaging approaches to define and solve fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology with implications for neurodegenerative disease, ischemic diseases and cancer.

Eduardo Orias

Tetrahymena genetics and genomics; genetic, physical and sequence mapping of the germline and expressed genomes of the unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila.

Stephen Poole

Molecular genetics of Drosophila development, focusing on genes with dominant misexpression phenotypes in adult bristles. Bioinformatic analyses of contact-dependent growth inhibition systems in diverse bacterial species.

Joel Rothman

Molecular and genetic control of development in the nematode C. elegans; regulation of programmed cell death; mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

Erkki Ruoslahti

Cell adhesion and tumor metastasis; study of molecular signatures in vessels, and the use of these vascular "zip codes" in targeted drug delivery.

William Smith

Developmental genetics and morphogenesis of the primitive chordate Ciona.

James A Thomson

Dr. Thomson studies the self-renewal and pluripotency of stem cells.

Carol Vandenberg

Cell biology of the nervous system and muscle. Mechanisms of ion channel trafficking; function and regulation of potassium channels; polarized targeting of membrane proteins and neuronal cell polarity.

Thomas Weimbs

Investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and related renal diseases. Membrane trafficking and epithelial cell polarity.

Leslie Wilson

Mechanism and regulation of microtubule polymerization and dynamics; mechanism of action of microtubule-targeted anticancer drugs and microtubule-regulatory proteins.

Max Wilson

Combines tools from Biology, Engineering, and Physics to understand the cell’s perceptual field.