The Cell and Developmental Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is a highly interactive multidisciplinary program that is consistently rated among the top 12% in the nation. The Cell Biology faculty are conducting paradigm shifting research into some of the most complex, medically relevant problems that face our society today, and are dedicated to preparing our students to face these challenges in an environment of rapidly advancing technology. Our graduates are leaders in academics, industry and public service.
Under the leadership of Cell and Developmental Biology faculty, longstanding program project grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases are instrumental in facilitating collaborations between Cell Biology faculty and colleagues throughout the medical school basic science and clinical programs.
The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology currently occupies over 50,000 square feet of high quality space on three floors of the Basic Science and Student Lab wings of the Medical School and in Biotech 4 on the Medical School campus. We have 22 faculty members and 150 postdocs, research associates, students and staff. The infrastructure of the department supports seventeen research labs and a significant share of medical and graduate student education.
Cell and Developmental Biology faculty have attained national distinction in medical education and are consistently recognized by awards for excellence and innovation in teaching and curriculum development. Our commitment to education spans the entire calendar year. In the classroom, the department has the responsibility for providing instruction to medical students, graduate students and postgraduate physicians and scientists in molecular and cell biology, human genetics, embryology, histology, organ biology, gross anatomy and neuroanatomy. Thus, we cover state-of-the-art molecular cell biology as well as the traditional anatomical disciplines.
Medical students, graduate students and postgraduate physicians and scientists actively participate in the departmental research programs. There is a strong emphasis on multi-disciplinary team approaches where shared concepts and expertise of physicians and scientists expedite the translation of fundamental biological findings to the resolution of clinical problems.
A unique feature of Cell and Developmental Biology’s departmental research program is the focus on mammalian development that includes gametogenesis, fertilization, early embryogenesis, organogenesis, tissue remodeling, and senescence. Recent advances by Department of Cell and Developmental Biology investigators in the organization and assembly of regulatory machinery in nuclear microenvironments of human embryonic stem and reprogrammed pluripotent stem cells have established a new dimension to understanding regulatory mechanisms that are operative in cell fate and lineage commitment.
Investigators in the Department have achieved international distinction for defining linkages of nuclear structure and cytoarchitecture with the gene regulatory mechanisms that mediate biological control and compromised organization, assembly and activity of the regulatory machinery for gene expression in cancer, musculoskeletal disease and renal disease, and reproductive as well as neurological disorders. The translational effectiveness of our research program is a direct reflection of interdisciplinary pursuits of fundamental regulatory mechanisms in a collaborative setting with basic scientists, clinicians and physician/investigators.
The Department’s research and teaching programs, focus on utilization of cellular, biochemical and genetic approaches that incorporate the highest resolution genomic, proteomic and bioinformatic strategies to address structure-function relationships associated with cell growth, differentiation, and development as well as genetic and epigenetic control of gene expression in human embryonic stem cells and lineage committed specialized cells. Emphasis is on basic biological and biomedical processes with applications to clinical medicine and biotechnology.
Our effectiveness has been enhanced by collaborations with colleagues in many of the clinical and basic science departments. We make a concerted effort to optimize collaborations with our colleagues in UMASS Memorial Health Care in areas that bridge basic science and clinical medicine in both research and education. Cell Dev Bio faculty participate in and play active leadership roles in the Cancer Center, the Musculoskeletal Center and the Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center. These transdisciplinary centers provide environments where regulatory mechanisms seamlessly translate to the prevention, detection and treatment of human disease. Equally important has been the development and continued expansion of joint research and education programs with investigators in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and also with scientists at several institutions in Boston, Worcester, and throughout New England. To expand opportunities for collaborative research we have developed international partnerships with China and Japan, and major programs in Israel, Singapore, Italy, Pakistan, China and Chile that are grant funded.
Research in the Department is principally funded by the National Institutes of Health, with major support from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Various labs and researchers also enjoy funding support from the Department of Defense, private foundations including the American Heart Association, the Ellison Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
Our research activities are augmented by a reproductive/developmental biology training grant. Training faculty are from several basic science and clinical departments. Trainees include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, MD/PhD students and clinical fellows. A second training program supports research training for undergraduate students underrepresented in biomedical sciences (minorities, economically or physically disadvantaged, etc). These NIH funded training programs reflect the effectiveness of the educational/community service commitment of our faculty.
Members of the Cell and Developmental Biology Department faculty serve on Advisory Boards for federal granting agencies, state agencies and programs throughout the U.S., private biomedical research foundations, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments throughout the world.