Graduate Program in Cell Biology

Department Research PresentationThe overall objective of the departmental Graduate Program is to prepare students for careers in biomedical research or related work in academic, clinical, pharmaceutical, or biotechnology environments. The program strives to provide students with a strong foundation of relevant information as well as an intensive experience in the conduct of primary research with potential to make significant and novel contributions to the existing body of biomedical knowledge. The program, through the University of Massachusetts Medical School Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, offers PhD training. The Program does not offer MS degree training.

Program in Cell Biology

Program Director: Dr. Anthony Imbalzano
Program Faculty

Course Offerings

Specific course requirements for specialization in cell biology include two advanced courses, at least one of which is Advanced Topics in Cell Biology (

Mammalian Development and Stem Cells

The potential of stem cells in therapeutic applications has ignited a fiercely competitive field of research aimed at the isolation, maintenance and differentiation of stem cells into specific pathways of differentiation. The use of stem cells in clinical application, however, requires an understanding of the molecular and cellular and epigenetic events that transform pluripotent cells into differentiated ones. Mammalian embryogenesis can be conceived as a sequence of developmental decisions that result in progressive restriction in cell potency. In this course we will use the cellular and molecular mechanisms of mammalian development as a framework for understanding the origin and differentiation of multiple pluripotent cells and their role in stem cell research and human disease.
Catalog Number: BBS737

Cell Signal Transduction

Proper intracellular signaling is critical to cell growth and differentiation, and dysregulation of signal transduction underlies a wide variety of human disorders. This course will examine various signal transduction pathways utilized by eukaryotes. A different pathway will be discussed each week, with special emphasis on the biological role(s) of the pathway in cell growth and function. Research papers highlighting one or more aspects of the signal pathway will be assigned for student presentation.
Catalog Number: BBS722.

Disruption of Cellular Architecture and Human Disease

This course explores the relationships between basic cellular structures, components and processes, from the membrane through the cytoplasm and into the nucleus, and human diseases. Topics will be chosen from the recent literature to illustrate molecular and cellular aspects of cellular architecture and how defects contribute to disease. The format includes introductions by faculty, student presentations and faculty-student discussions of selected research papers. Topically, this course covers diseases ranging from ciliopathies, cardiomyopathy, muscular dystrophies, mental retardation, dimentia, hematopoietic diseases to cancer and aging.
Catalog Number:BBS788

Nuclear Structure and Function in Disease

The relationship of nuclear and chromatin structure to gene function and regulation. Topics will be chosen from the recent research literature to illustrate molecular and cellular aspects of nuclear organization and regulation and how defects contribute to human disease. The format includes student presentations and faculty-students discussions of selected research papers.
Catalog Number: BBS734

Cytoskeleton and Disease

The course focuses on functions of actin- and microtubule-based cytoskeleton systems in the context of human disease, organized as a series of seminars with presentations by students and faculty. Discussions will include how molecular information contributes to diagnosis and treatment of disease, and how clinical phenotypes elucidate protein functioning in whole organisms.
Catalog Number: BBS733

Image Works- Principles of Light & Electron Microscopy

Principles and applications of microscopy in biomedical research for graduate students at all levels. Demonstrations and laboratory exercises will be incorporated into some blocks of instruction. This course is designed to teach the biologist how microscopes work and how to optimize image quality.
Catalog Number: BBS732

Cancer Biology

The course will encompass focal topics in cancer and tumorigenesis, using experiments and salient papers published in scientific literature to highlight key concepts and further questions which remain to be addressed. Although some attention will be given to cell cycling defects and their links to cancer, the majority of the subjects covered will involve a broader look at tumor biology including metastasis, angiogenesis, chromosomal abnormalities, DNA repair defects, telomeres and senescence, and the response of the host to the disease state.
Catalog Number: BBS725

Human Genetics

This course focuses on the human genetic knowledge and concepts which underlies almost every aspect of human health, both in normal function and disease. We will cover chromosomal, single gene, and multifactorial disorders, including quantitative analysis of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, human cancer genetics, and recent developments in human genome research. Problem solving will involve clinical, molecular and statistical data. We hope to provide a framework for understanding a fast growing and highly technical field, and an appreciation of how current research impacts many aspects of medicine as well as biomedical research. (“Early registration is recommended, space is very limited”.
Catalog Number: BBS736

Eukaryotic Gene Regulation

This course encompasses current topics in eukaryotic gene regulation including the study and discussion of current research articles. Course goals are to improve skills in reading, presenting, discussing and critically analyzing research articles and to obtain an up-to-date understanding of some key topics in eukaryotic gene regulation.
Catalog Number: BBS738

Developmental Biology

This course will provide basic instruction in contemporary Developmental Biology with an emphasis on animal development. The course will familiarize students with development in each of the major model systems (worms, flies, frogs, fish, chick, mouse) and expose them to commonly used techniques (genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry) in the context of animal development. The class will meet twice per week and each week will cover a different topic. Each topic will be introduced by a lecture and subsequently explored in depth by discussion of relevant articles from the literature. Each student will be expected to lead at least one group discussion.
Catalog Number: BBS739

Tutorials, Seminars, and Journal Clubs

Tutorial in Cell Biology

Tutorial arranged with individual faculty.
Catalog Number: BBS842

Seminar in Cell Biology

Topics to be announced.
Catalog Number: BBS811

Information for Graduate Students:

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Life in Worcester

Postdoctoral Scholars