Cell Structure and Function

Mechanisms of cell motility in UVA's Cell Structure and Function lab.Research in cell structure and function seeks to determine mechanisms by which parts of cells undergo change and interact with one another in carrying out basic cellular functions. The field encompasses cell morphology, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. The goals are to understand the organization and activities of cells at all levels,from the behavior of entire cells and cell organelles to relationships between their component molecules. A wide range of approaches is employed, including light and electron microscopy, electrophysiology, molecular genetics, and biochemical analysis. A number of rapidly developing areas are under investigation by members of the Cell and Molecular Biology group.

Mechanisms of cell motility, including movement of whole cells and of their parts, constitute an active area of investigation in cell biology. In recent years, there has been considerable progress in the structure and chemistry of microtubules, microfilaments, and membrane proteins. Research in these areas at the University of Virginia includes studies on the mechanism of chromosome movement during mitosis, of organelle tranport along microtubules and actin filaments, and on the behavior of flagella during cell motility.

Another important area of cell biology concerns the control of cell function by external signals. A major aspect of research at the University of Virginia relates to the function of cells involved in the circulatory systems, particularly the vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells of the circulation. Techniques ranging from video microscopy to gene cloning are used to investigate the factors that control the circulation and growth of relevant cell types.

A source of information that is very important in determining the proper function, arrangement, and development of cells is provided by the extracellular matrix. This network of proteins and other macromolecules helps organize and inform cells of their locations, and provides guideposts for their migrations through an organism during embryogenesis and for wound healing. Several labs at the University of Virginia explore the extracellular matrix, its composition, and its effect on the development of cells and tissues.

Research into basic aspects of cell function address myriad topics, ranging from the mechanism of storage and secretion of proteins destined to be exported from the cell to the nature of sites that initiate chromosome replication. The diversity of experience and equipment available makes collaborative projects possible and facilitates interdisciplinary approaches to current projects.

Faculty in this area:

Roger Abounader

Abounader, Roger

Basic and translational brain tumor research


Douglas Bayliss

Bayliss, Douglas A.

Mechanisms of neuromodulation in central neurons


Mark Beenhakker

Beenhakker, Mark P.

Circuit mechanisms of sleep and epilepsy


George Bloom

Bloom, George S.

Pathogenic mechanisms in Alzheimer's Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders


James Casanova

Casanova, James E.

Role of Arf family GTPases in vesicular transport and cytoskeleton assembly.
Cell Biology of bacterial pathogenesis.
The innate immune response to bacterial infection.


Bimal Desai

Desai, Bimal N.

Ion channels and Ca2+-signaling in inflammation, immunity and tissue homeostasis


Douglas DeSimone

DeSimone, Douglas W.

Cell Adhesion and Adhesion-Dependent Cell Signaling in Vertebrate Morphogenesis


Anindya Dutta

Dutta, Anindya

Genomic Instability in Cancer Cells; Noncoding RNAs in differentiation and cancer; Bioinformatics of cancer outcome


Noelle Dwyer

Dwyer, Noelle

Neural Development; Cell Division in Neural Stem Cells; Axon Outgrowth and Guidance


Jeffrey Holmes

Holmes, Jeffrey W.

Healing after myocardial infarction, cardiac growth and remodeling, and image-based modeling and diagnosis.


Brant Isakson

Isakson, Brant

Translating our discoveries in the microcirculation to tangible benefits in patients.


Kevin Janes

Janes, Kevin A.

Systems-biology approaches to cancer biology and virology.


David Kashatus

Kashatus, David F

The Role of Mitochondrial Fusion and Fission in Tumorigenesis.


Kimberly Kelly

Kelly, Kimberly

Advancement in the design of imaging agents; molecular imaging and radiological sciences.


Anne Kenworthy

Kenworthy, Anne

Architecture and function of biological membranes


Jonathan Kipnis

Kipnis, Jonathan

Neuroimmunology and glia biology in cognition, neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration


Sarah Kucenas

Kucenas, Sarah C.

The role of glia in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system


Norbert Leitinger

Leitinger, Norbert

Role of lipid oxidation products in inflammation and vascular immunology in atherosclerosis and diabetes


Hui Li

Li, Hui

Gene regulation in cancer, RNA processing; Epigenetic modification; Stem cell and development

Xiaowei Lu

Lu, Xiaowei

Developmental regulation of planar cell polarity in the mammalian nervous system


Kevin Lynch

Lynch, Kevin R.

Chemical biology of sphingosine 1-phosphate


Golam Mohi

Mohi, Golam

Cell signaling, hematopoietic stem cell biology, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms of leukemia.


Eyleen O'Rourke

O’Rourke, Eyleen Jorgelina

Obesity and Aging


Gary Owens

Owens, Gary K.

Identification of Factors and Mechanisms that Regulate the Stability of Late Stage Atherosclerotic Lesions and the Probability of Thromboembolic Events Including a Heart Attack or Stroke


Jason Papin

Papin, Jason A.

Systems biology, infectious disease, cancer, toxicology, metabolic engineering


Kwon-Sik Park

Park, Kwon-Sik

Mechanisms of organ development and homeostasis and tumor development


Bryce Paschal

Paschal, Bryce M.

Nuclear Transport, Signaling, and Cancer


Shayn Peirce-Cottler

Peirce-Cottler, Shayn M.

Tissue Engineering and Regeneration, Computational Systems Biology, Vascular Growth and Remodeling, Stem Cell Therapies


Owen Pornillos

Pornillos, Owen

Structure and assembly of HIV, virus/host interactions, structural biology of the innate immune system


Stefanie Redemann

Redemann, Stefanie

Chromosome segregation and aneuploidy in meiosis and mitosis


Jeffrey Saucerman

Saucerman, Jeffrey J.

Roles of complex signaling networks involved in the regulation of cardiovascular function and disease


Jung-Bum Shin

Shin, Jung-Bum

Auditory Neurobiology


Sarah Siegrist

Siegrist, Sarah

Regulation of neural stem cell proliferation during development and adulthood


Jeffrey Smith

Smith, Jeffrey S.

Transcriptional Silencing and Aging in Yeast


P. Todd Stukenberg

Stukenberg, P. Todd

Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in Mitosis and generation of Chromosomal Instability in tumors


Yuh-Hwa Wang

Wang, Yuh-Hwa

Genome instability in cancer and repeat expansion diseases


Bettina Winckler

Winckler, Bettina

Endosomal function and dysfunction in neurons. Development of the nervous system: cytoskeleton and membrane traffic in axon and dendrite growth.


Hui Zong

Zong, Hui

Early detection, cancer prevention, and tumor microenvironment