The MCB Department is divided into five Divisions that reflect general research areas. Department committees with representatives from each of the Divisions offer the basis for governance, oversight of graduate affairs, overall curriculum, facilities, and such. However, each Division is in charge of its own course offerings, seminar series and annual retreat.
- Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology
- Cell & Developmental Biology
- Genetics, Genomics and Development
- Immunology and Pathogenesis
Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology
Faculty of the Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology (BBS) are engaged in advanced study of the biological chemistry of cellular metabolites; enzymatic catalysis; the structure and function of biological macromolecules, especially nucleic acids and proteins; the supramolecular organization of complex cellular assemblies, including the transcription and DNA replication proteins, biological membranes; and, regulation of biological processes such as chromosomal folding, protein secretion and intracellular signaling. These problems are being investigated in systems that range from bacteria and bacteriophage to yeast to human cells and their viruses. Faculty of this division also participate in interdepartmental programs in structural biology, chemical biology, microbiology and toxicology. Facilities include those for protein-sequence analysis, peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis, access to the synchrotron at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for X-ray crystallography, and NMR spectrometry. The Division holds a weekly seminar series by invited speakers, and each year is the host for the Chiron, Li, Stanier, and Wilson Lecturers. The Division holds its annual retreat at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California, in early January.
Cell & Developmental Biology
Faculty of the Division of Cell & Developmental Biology (CDB) pursue research aimed at detailed understanding of: the structure and function of cellular components, such as membranes, organelles, chromosomes and the cytoskeleton; cellular processes, such as epithelial transport, cell motility, mitosis, protein targeting and secretion, stem cell plasticity, and eukaryotic cell cycle control; tumor biology; cellular physiology; the origin of cell polarity; and the molecular and cellular basis for axis formation, morphogenetic movements, fate determination, and gene regulation during embryogenesis and cellular differentiation. These issues are being addressed in systems as diverse as yeast, fruit flies, worms, sea urchins, frogs, mice and mammalian cells in culture, and these studies exploit techniques ranging from molecular biology and microinjection to digital imaging and mathematical modeling. Specialized equipment for confocal fluorescence microscopy, video imaging, and computer simulations are available in shared core facilities in the Life Sciences Addition where many of the faculty are housed. The Division sponsors a weekly seminar series by invited speakers, holds informal journal clubs on topics in cell biology and holds its annual retreat at the Granlibakken Conference Center in Lake Tahoe, California, in the Fall Semester.
Genetics, Genomics and Development
Faculty of the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Development (GGD) explore the fundamental mechanisms of genetics, evolution, and development using genetic, molecular, biochemical, computational, and genomic approaches. Interests include the basic mechanisms of transcription, RNA processing, and translation, and their control; structure, function, and evolution of gene regulatory networks; origin and evolution of animal signaling and patterning mechanisms in development; replication, structure, dynamics, and evolution of genomes; embryonic pattern formation and morphogenesis, including the control of cell fate; regulatory mechanisms at the genomic level, including sex determination and dosage compensation genetic and genomic diversity and variation within natural and artificial populations. GGD research groups take advantage of a wide variety of organisms to address these issues, including both established model systems (e.g., yeast, nematodes, frult flies, zebrafish), and new genome-enabled emerging models (e.g., sea squirts, sea anemones, frogs, choanoflagellates). The Division is home to the Center for Integrative Genomics and participates in the campus-wide Computational Biology Initiative. It also has close ties with major genome sequencing initiatives including the Drosophilia genome project and numerous animal and fungal genome projects at the nearby DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek and elsewhere, as well as associated research at the Gump Field Station in Moorea, French Polynesia. The Division sponsors a weekly seminar series by invited speakers and holds its annual retreat at the Granlibakken Conference Center in Lake Tahoe, California, in the early fall.
Immunology and Pathogenesis
Faculty of the Division of Immunology and Pathogenesis (I&P) conduct advanced research to understand the mouse and human immune system. Various division members are interested in the structure and function of cell surface receptors, the assembly of antigen receptor genes, and other aspects of immune recognition. In addition, we focus upon immune surveillance in cancer, apoptosis, tissue transplantation, autoimmunity and infectious disease. The faculty offers a cohesive program of training in modern molecular and cellular immunology that contributes to and benefits from its close ties to research in the allied fields of biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, cell biology and genetics being conducted in other Divisions. The Division, in conjunction with the Cancer Research Laboratory, supervises and maintains state-of-the-art instrumentation for advanced microscopy, flow cytometry, and the construction of transgenic and gene-targeted mice. The Division sponsors a weekly seminar series by eminent immunologists, and jointly holds its annual retreat with the immunology program at the University of California, San Francisco.
Faculty in the Division of Neurobiology (NEU) engage in advanced research in neuroscience from the molecular to the integrative and computational levels. Specific topics under investigation include: molecular and biophysical analysis of ion channels; receptors and signal transduction mechanisms; formation and plasticity of synapses; control of neural cell fate and pattern formation; neuronal growth-cone guidance, target recognition and regeneration; mechanisms of sensory processing in the visual, auditory, olfactory and gustatory systems; and development and function of neural networks. The preparations being investigated range from cells in culture, to simple invertebrate systems and model genetic organisms, to the mammalian cerebral cortex. The faculty offer an integrated approach to training in modern neurobiology, spanning the use of molecular and classical genetics; molecular, biochemical, cell biological and anatomical methods; electrophysiological and biophysical techniques; functional genomics; advanced optical imaging; and computational analysis. Members of the Division (as well as faculty from the Divisions of Cell & Developmental Biology and Genetics & Development) also participate in the campus-wide Neuroscience Graduate Program, which is administered by the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and includes faculty from the Departments of Psychology, Integrative Biology, Physics (College of Letters and Science), Vision Science (School of Optometry), Environmental Science, Policy and Management (College of Natural Resources), and Chemical Engineering (College of Chemistry). While the MCB Program welcomes students interested in all areas of neuroscience, students focused primarily on systems-level and cognitive neuroscience are also encouraged to consider applying to the Neuroscience Graduate Program. The Division sponsors a weekly seminar series by invited speakers, and together with the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute co-sponsors the annual campus-wide Neuroscience retreat.