Molecular Biology & Genetics

Molecular Biology and Genetics seek to understand how the molecules that make up cells determine the behavior of living things. Biologists use molecular and genetic tools to study the function of those molecules in the complex milieu of the living cell. Groups in our department are using these approaches to study a wide variety of questions, including the fundamental processes of transcription and translation, mechanisms of global gene control including signal transduction pathways, the function of the visual and olfactory systems, and the nature of genetic diversity in natural populations and how that affects their evolution, among others. The systems under study cover the range of model organisms (bacteria, yeast, slime molds, worms, fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice) though the results of these studies relate directly or indirectly to human health.

Faculty with Interest in Molecular Biology and Genetics:

Bieberich, Charles
We are developing new transgenic mouse models of human prostate cancer.

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.

Burns, Mercedes
Population genomics, species delimitation, and phylogeography of the leiobunine Opiliones (“daddy-longlegs”).

Bustos, Mauricio
We investigate the role of ubiquitin/proteasome mediated protein degradation in transcription and the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes.

Cusick, Kathleen
Genes and pathways involved in copper tolerance, biofilm formation and nanoparticle synthesis in the marine bacterium Alteromonas; megaplasmids in bacterial niche adaptation.

Eisenmann, David
We study the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in controlling cell fate decisions during C. elegans development. We also study regulation and function of the Hox gene lin-39 in C. elegans.

Erill, Ivan
Cross-linking between experimental assays and in-silico data for regulatory elements.

Farabaugh, Philip
Molecular genetics of translational accuracy in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and bacterium Escherichia coli.

Gardner, Jeffrey
Studying bacterial physiology using systems and synthetic biology; Determining how microbes sense the environment and obtain energy examining the mechanisms of plant cell wall degradation in bacteria.

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.

Leips, Jeff
Genetic mapping of quantitative traits, association mapping to identify the effects of natural polymorphism in candidate genes on phenotypic variation.

Lu, Hua
Characterizing function of genes regulating plant innate immunity and dissecting defense signaling networks.

Mendelson, Tamra
Molecular phylogenetic systematics; phylogenetic reconstruction of gene families.

Miller, Stephen
Identification and characterization of transposons for tagging important developmental loci in Volvox carteri.

Padmanabhan, Achuth
We are interested in understanding how alterations in key oncogenes and tumor suppressors impact ovarian cancer progression.

Robinson, Phyllis
My research program uses the techniques of molecular biology to explore structure function relationships of visual pigments.

Schreier, Harold
Molecular microbial ecology, physiology and genetics.

Starz-Gaiano, Michelle
We use loss-of-function and gain-of-function genetic strategies in Drosophila to identify new genes involved in cell migration, and to better understand molecular pathways required for cell movement.

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 different genetic pathways and electrical activity levels in neurons regulate neuronal network development, stabilization, and aging in Drosophila.

Walker, Nykia
We will study transcriptional changes facilitated by primary tumors to promote cancer metastasis. We will investigate various cell signaling mechanisms used by tumors to communicate with other cells.   We will use bioinformatics, proteomics and molecular biology techniques to elucidate identify and characterize key regulators of metastasis and cellular dormancy in the bone marrow.