Research Areas

Cytoskeleton and Cell Morphogenesis

The Track includes labs involved in the analysis of the cytoskeleton and its ability to control the morphogenesis and function of cells and tissues.

Developmental Biology

Faculty in MCGD study many aspects of development, including pattern formation, oogenesis, nervous system development, bone formation, cell migration, and embryogenesis. Experimental systems include maize, Arabidopsis, Drosophila, C. elegans, and zebrafish. For more information, please see the Developmental Biology at Yale website.

Genetics and Genomics

Whole genome sequences, array-based techniques for obtaining data, and new bioinformatics tools are revolutionizing the study of genetics. Several labs use these tools to study basic cellular and developmental processes.

Human Disease

A variety of methods are being used to study the genetic and molecular basis of human diseases, including phenylketonuria, diabetes, cancer, polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, psychiatric illnesses, and Werner’s syndrome.

Membrane Proteins

Yale has a rich tradition of research aimed at characterizing membrane channels and transport ATPases. Labs analyze individual molecules using patch-clamp and molecular techniques, as well as investigating channel function in intact cells and tissues.

Membrane Traffic and Biogenesis

Yale is considered to be the world’s center for the study of membrane trafficking. Major effort is directed toward understanding the proteins involved in the formation, fusion, and targeting of membrane transport vesicles involved in secretion, endocytosis, and synaptic transmission.

Molecular and Chemical Biology

A number of MCGD faculty seek to understand the chemistry that underlies biological processes. Individual research topics include the analysis of catalytic RNAs, engineering new RNA and DNA enzymes, the enzymology of homologous recombination, exploring signal transduction pathways using chemical probes, and the evolution of metabolic pathways.


Track faculty investigate diverse neurobiological phenomena, including synaptic structure and function, membrane traffic, axon guidance, ion channel biophysics, receptors and signal transduction, learning and memory, and developmental neurobiology.

Nucleic Acids

Researchers are studying fundamental processes such as DNA replication, homologous recombination, and DNA damage repair. In addition, studies are being carried out on ribosome biogenesis, mRNA translation, RNA catalysis, and riboswitches.

Oncogenes, Tumor Suppressor Genes, and Cell Cycle Control

Disruption of key cellular control mechanisms can lead to deregulated cell growth, tumor formation, and metastasis. Labs analyze mechanisms of cell cycle control, signal transduction, viral transformation, and tumorigenesis in various systems including invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.

Pathogen-Cell Interactions

The study of how viruses and protozoan parasites identify and infect their target cells reveals as much about the cell biology of the host as it does about the parasite. Several MCGD Track faculty are exploring this emerging cell biological interface.

Plant Biology

Current research areas include the molecular genetics of flowering, the developmental biology of leaves, the physiology of hormone action, signal transduction, and the evolution of plants. Colleagues in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station contribute to seminars and graduate courses.

    Protein Dynamics

    A major area of activity in MCGD is protein sorting and targeting during diverse cellular processes, including the establishment of cell polarity, antigen processing, and chaperone function.

    Receptors and Signal Transduction

    Several MCGD labs are interested in signal transduction as it applies to the regulation of multiple cellular processes, including cell proliferation, cell survival, differentiation, fate determination, and cell movement.