Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Development

Cell biology, molecular biology, and genetics are central to virtually all pursuits in the biological and biomedical sciences. These fields have been energized by the wealth of information emerging from the many ongoing genomics projects in mammals and other organisms. Once new genes are identified, the activities of encoded proteins can be determined at the cellular level to understand their functions, interactions, and biological significance.

Faculty in the MCGD Track investigate a broad array of topics, and research projects often combine several approaches. For example, some faculty use methods in molecular and cellular biology to study development, while others combine biochemistry and genetics to investigate the molecular basis of human disease. The experimental systems used span the evolutionary spectrum, from viruses and bacteria, to unicellular eukaryotes (yeast), simple metazoan systems (Drosophila, C. elegans), plants (Arabidopsis, maize, rice), cultured vertebrate cells, and finally vertebrate model organisms, culminating with the study of human biology.

Students have access not only to an exceptionally broad range of research topics, but also to a range of highly specialized experimental approaches. These include high-throughput microarray technology for genomic and proteomic analysis, high-resolution confocal microscopy and image analysis, electron microscopy, immunocytochemistry, and single-cell and patch-clamp recording for electrophysiology studies.

Individual labs and shared facilities are well equipped for research in all areas of modern molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, and membrane biophysics. Core facilities, such as the Center for Cell Imaging and the Center for Genomics and Proteomics, offer not only technical support and service, but also maintain active training programs in which students receive hands-on instruction.

The Track is composed largely of faculty from the Departments of Cell Biology, Genetics, and Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, but it also includes faculty from many other Departments. Students take classes and do lab rotations both at the School of Medicine and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.