Molecular and Cellular Biology
Kenneth W. Gross, PhD, Chairman
Susan M. Bechtel
The research of the members of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department focuses on the mechanisms governing normal development, differentiation and organismal homeostasis. Cancer is a condition when these regulatory mechanisms are compromised, through genetic or epigenetic disruptions to the normal processes. Significant insight to novel clinical approaches to cancer treatment can be achieved by a thorough understanding of these fundamental mechanisms.
Research programs of this department capitalize on the powerful classical and molecular genetic approaches developed for use in the mouse, making it the experimental model of choice for the study of human diseases, including cancer. The murine models have been applied to generate tissue culture systems in which cellular differentiation, intercellular communication, and gene regulation are characterized. The knowledge is then extended to corresponding human cell, tissue and organ systems. This combined expertise represented by the Molecular and Cellular Biology staff is then made available to other researchers at the Institute through collaborative interactions and through the Gene Targeting and Transgenic Core Facility, which is operated and overseen by Departmental staff members. Other research programs in the department address similar questions using budding (S. cerevisiae) and fission (S. pombe) yeast models as well as Drosophila.
Departmental research currently focuses on five thematic areas:
1) Stem cells and stem cell microenvironment.
2) The glycobiology of cell-cell interactions.
3) Analysis of biological control mechanisms.
4) Animal models for genetic and epigenetic analysis of cancer susceptibility and cancer progression.
5) Regulatory control of DNA replication and developmental regulatory networks.