Department of Cell Biology and Physiology

Cell biology is one of the primary disciplines in medical research, influencing all areas of basic and clinical investigation. The future holds great opportunities in cell biology research due to inventories of the genes and proteins from which cells are built, new experimental techniques and various model organisms. Further discoveries about the cell biology of human genes will continue to translate into therapeutics. Also on the horizon is a better understanding of how proteins and sets of proteins (e.g., macromolecular complexes) are assembled and integrated to produce function.

The Department of Cell Biology and Physiology is ranked among the top 10 cell biology departments in the country, and the research carried out by its faculty covers a broad range of fields within cellular physiology and molecular cell biology. A unifying theme is the study of fundamental processes and their regulation. These cellular processes include genome maintenance, apoptosis, cell cycle control, dynamic cell motility, angiogenesis, signal transduction and membrane trafficking, presynaptic processes, prion protein misfolding, RNA metabolism, and the structure and function of ion channels. The department's research activities provide a foundation for studies in cancer biology, immunobiology, developmental biology, neurobiology and vascular biology. Its faculty use model organisms as well as human stem cells and a variety of techniques such as deep-etch electron and confocal microscopy to carry out their research. Cellular imaging is a particular strength of the department.

The Department of Cell Biology and Physiology oversees the physiology contents within the Washington University School of Medicine's Gateway curriculum, which is designed to provide first-year medical students with a foundation for their further study of clinical and applied physiology. The Molecular Cell Biology course for first-year graduate students conveys an understanding of fundamental cell biology research strategies and principles. In addition, advanced courses open to medical and graduate students provide for more detailed study of specific areas of cell biology, physiology and cellular biophysics.

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