- January 1, 2013 -
Cells are the fundamental unit of life, composed of billions of molecules: DNA, RNA, proteins, glycans, lipids, and small molecules that have defined molecular properties and biological activities. Each cell is able to respond to its environment and to communicate with other cells to create tissues, organs, and whole organisms. How do these molecular components assemble to produce a cell with the ability to carry out distinctive functions in response to its surroundings that yield the property of life?
Cell and Molecular Biology is an interdisciplinary field that bridges the fields of chemistry, structure and biology as it seeks to understand life and cellular processes at the molecular level. In the midst of the "omics" era that is producing vast databases cataloguing the molecular components of cells, it is ever more important to discover the basic mechanisms that allow cells to have differentiated properties and coordinate the activities that form the essential systems that define a living cell. This will be crucial for understanding the basis of human disease.
The Cell and Molecular Biology faculty are providing important new insights into the basis and treatment of numerous human diseases, including among others cancer, diabetes, cardiomyopathies, retinal degeneration, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, and mental retardation. Our work is defining the underlying mechanisms of human disease, identifying new therapeutic targets responsible for disease, and laying the foundation for the development of novel therapies to counter disease.
The "omics" era will continue to be one of rapid growth and discovery that will continuously expand the potential of Cell and Molecular biology to get answers. Through the application of ever more powerful tools, we are rapidly placing the growing compendium of cellular molecules in their functional context within the cell, and the integrated functions of cells in our bodies to address the most central problems in human health development of medicines for the 21st century. It could not be a more exciting time.