Research in the Department of Cell Biology is concerned with cells as well as how cells function in the context of the various tissues of the body. Our goal is to discover molecular and physiological mechanisms that underlie the treatment and prevention of human disease.
The department faculty participate in the teaching of the Human Systems and the Correlated Medical Problem Solving (CMPS) courses for first year medical and dental students, and the Logic of Cell Biology course for graduate students. Several faculty are also contributors to medical / and dental student textbooks.
The core of the department consists of former members of the Department of Physiology, which was chaired by Richard D. Berlin for over 30 years. In recent years, he oversaw the change to Cell Biology, the addition of members from the former Departments of Pharmacology and Anatomy, and the formation of the Center for Vascular Biology (Linda Shapiro, Director) and the Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling (Leslie Loew, Director). The Department of Cell Biology is also the academic home for basic science faculty members in the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center (Bruce Liang, Director) and the Center for Quanitative Medicine (Reinhard Laubenbacher, Director). The department organizes the annual Richard D. Berlin lecture.
On the cover! In the July 18, 2013 issue of Cell, Terasaki et al. (pp. 285–296) explain how parallel sheets of endoplasmic reticulum are connected. The existence of these sheet stacks and their function in synthesis of membrane and secreted proteins has been known for more than 60 years. Three-dimensional reconstructions from serial section electron micrographs from mouse salivary gland show that the sheets are connected by twisted membrane surfaces with helical edges. The overall structure resembles a parking garage, in which the different levels are connected by helicoidal ramps. Theoretical calculations show that this structure minimizes the elastic energy of sheet edges and surfaces and allows dense packing of this organelle in the restricted space of a cell.