Cell Biology

Microscopy image with purple and yellow colors.

Research in the department explores a wide variety of basic aspects of cell function and cell communication particularly in the context of plant or animal development, neurobiology, immunology, and the cancer process.

Projects range from studies on endocytic processing of tumor antigens for presentation on the surfaces of cells of the immune system to develop tumor immunity to studies on the mechanism of asymmetric cell division to generate cell type diversity during development and studies identifying molecules involved in regulating cell traction to facilitate cell migration during embryogenesis. Signal transduction pathways involved in processes as diverse as photoreception, directing developmental decision making in forming the vulva organ of the nematode worm and pheromone signaling in the olfactory system are also areas of active research in the department. These problems are approached using genetics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and microscopy.

Faculty with Interest in Cell Biology:

Bieberich, Charles
We are interested in determining how the prostate tumor suppressor NKX3.1 controls cell proliferation.

Brewster, Rachel
We are investigating the regulation of brain development and metabolism. These studies are expected to contribute to the prevention of neural tube birth defects and the treatment of stroke.

Gardner, Jeffrey
Using systems and synthetic biology to engineer microbial strains of industrial value for bioenergy and bioremediation.

Green, Erin
Understanding epigenetics and the regulation of the genome through investigation of histone post-translational modifications; dissecting the role of protein post-translational modifications in nuclear signaling pathways.

LeGates, Tara
We are interested in how neuronal communication regulates behavior and how changes in that communication can lead to psychiatric disease.

Padmanabhan, Achuth
We are interested in understanding how deregulated cell signaling and aberrations in cellular protein quality control mechanisms impacts human health and diseases, such as cancer.

Robinson, Phyllis
My research program is interested in vision and the molecules that convert light into a biological signal.

Starz-Gaiano, Michelle
We are interested in the cellular signaling events that induce cell motility. We are also studying the changes in cell adhesion that must occur when cells become migratory.

Sutton, Laurie
We study the role of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in regulating both normal and disease states, as well as the regulatory mechanisms that modulate GPCR responsiveness at the molecular level.

Vonhoff, Fernando
We are interested in how axons and filopodia navigate through multiple cells to find the correct synaptic partners during nervous system development in Drosophila.

Walker, Nykia
We will study two types of stem cells:  (1) cancer stem cells and (2) mesenchymal stem cells and their regulatory role in promoting either cancer or tissue regeneration.  We will explore wound healing responses and how cancer cells use the same mechanisms to promote metastases.