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Biomedical Discoveries Underpin Good Health

Over the past decade, advances in molecular biology, genetics, and instrumentation have made it possible to address complex questions that earlier seemed far out of reach. We now have the means to look at complex interactions among genes, as well as the interplay between environment and genetic variation.

 

 
 

Basic Science Departments

  • Biological Chemistry

    The Biological Chemistry Department faculty conduct cellular and molecular research to study basic biology and the origins and treatments of human disease. Among their targets are protein, metabolic and genetic controls of disease, and cell growth and differentiation in various biological systems, including skin, hair, fat and sensory nerves. Faculty member Dr. Peter Agre was co-recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his lab's discovery of aquaporin water channels. Faculty are associated with the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, the Graduate Training Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics.

    Explore the Department of Biological Chemistry

  • Biomedical Engineering

    Since the 1940s, this department has applied advanced engineering technologies and concepts to biological problems and human diseases in seven research areas: engineering, cardiovascular systems, imaging, systems neuroscience, molecular and cell systems, neuroengineering and computational modeling. The formation of the Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute in 1999 and the faculty's close ties with the Center for Hearing and Balance, the Mind/Brain Institute, the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Center for Cardiovascular Bioinformatics and Modeling encourage a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to research. The department has its own Master of Science, doctoral and postdoctoral training programs in biomedical engineering.

    Explore the Department of Biomedical Engineering

  • Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry

    For more than 40 years, this department has applied quantitative biophysical methods to the analysis of macromolecular structures and biological systems. Faculty members use a wide range of research tools, including X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and fluorescence spectroscopies, computer modeling and theory, and structure-activity studies. Researchers investigate enzymes, antibodies, cell-surface receptors, ribosomes, data from the genome sequencing project, and DNA-, RNA- and metal-binding proteins. Faculty members are associated with the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program and the Program in Molecular and Computational Biophysics.

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  • Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology

    With its strong emphasis on animal models of human disease and long history of producing leaders in academic and industrial settings, this department is a national leader in research on animal diseases and animal models of human diseases.  Research topics include animal models of AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative  disease, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory lung disease. Faculty, fellows and residents control disease outbreaks in the institutional animal colonies through the division of Molecular and Comparative Pathology and provide clinical care of research animals through the Research Animal Resources division. The department’s Retrovirus Laboratory oversees a training grant in pathobiology for pre- and post-doctoral trainees to study the molecular pathogenesis of lentiviral diseases.

    Explore the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology

  • Cell Biology

    Building on the department's long, rich history, faculty members merge molecular biology and imaging techniques to focus on cellular form, function and transformation. Departmental scientists study topics including cell motility, division, membrane trafficking, metabolism, and development, with tools like scanning and transmission electron microscopy and scanning confocal, total internal reflection, and lattice light sheet fluorescence microscopy.  Faculty participate in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Johns Hopkins University Biology graduate programs.

    Explore the Department of Cell Biology

  • Molecular Biology and Genetics

    Department members' research projects include gene expression and regulation, the cell cycle, signal transduction, developmental biology, microbial pathogenesis, immunology, DNA transposition, telomeres, RNA catalysis and the molecular biology of vision and olfaction. Many faculty members are Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. Former faculty members Hamilton Smith and the late Daniel Nathans received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery and use of site-specific restriction enzymes. Faculty participate in eight School of Medicine graduate programs.  

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  • Neuroscience

    Neuroscience faculty focus on many areas of research including: cellular and molecular neuroscience; developmental neuroscience; neural circuits, ensembles and connectomes; systems, cognitive and computational neuroscience; and neurobiology of disease. Many faculty have joint appointments in other departments. Specific research topics include the mechanisms of learning and memory, neurotransmitters and growth factors, the visual system, synaptic plasticity, circuits underlying behavior, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders, neural stem cells, vestibular system function, motor control, and neuronal death, survival and regeneration and pain. Faculty participate in the Neuroscience and Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology training programs.

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  • Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

    John J. Abel, the "Father of Pharmacology," founded this department in 1893. Current faculty members are experts in biochemistry, immunology, virology, cancer, neuroscience, metabolism, genetics, and biophysics. Specific research topics include cancer therapeutics, viral infection mechanisms, antibacterial and antiviral drug development and delivery, protein structure and function,  histone acetylation and gene regulation, drug metabolism and innate immunity. Faculty accept students from the Pharmacology Graduate Training Program, the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, the Chemical Biology Interface Program, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Training Program the Medical Scientist Training Program.

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  • Physiology

    Researchers in the Department of Physiology integrate many disciplines to understand the functions of individual systems within a whole organism and the mechanisms that produce and sustain life. Faculty tackle issues such as the molecular control of cell membrane activities, intercellular and intracellular communication, coordinated cell signaling for organ development and mammalian embryonic development. They use computational methods, genetics and post-genomic strategies to study these issues in a variety of organisms, from bacteria and yeast to zebrafish, mice and people. Faculty participate in a number of graduate programs, including the program in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

    Explore the Department of Physiology

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