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Division of Cell Biology & Biophysics

The Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics seeks greater understanding of the structure and function of cells, cellular components, and the biological macromolecules that make up these components. The research it supports ranges from studies of single molecules to work in structural genomics and proteomics. The long-term goal of the division is to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure diseases that result from disturbed or abnormal cellular activity.

The division has three components: the Biophysics Branch, the Cell Biology Branch, and the Structural Genomics and Proteomics Technology Branch.

Research areas NIGMS supports within this division and contact names are listed on the Contacts by Research Area page.

Biophysics Branch

This branch supports studies in the areas of biophysics, a discipline that uses techniques derived from the physical sciences to examine the structures and properties of biological substances. Areas of emphasis in biophysical research include the determination of the structures of proteins and nucleic acids; studies of the structural features that determine macromolecular conformation; the structural analysis of macromolecular interactions and of ligand-macromolecular interactions; bioinformatics as it relates to protein and nucleic acid structure; the development of physical methodology for the analysis of molecular structure; and the development and use of theoretical methods to investigate biological systems. Other research interests include the development and refinement of instruments needed to conduct research in the areas described above. These include nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and other scattering techniques; optical spectroscopy, and other forms of microscopy. This branch also supports the development of new bioanalytical methods and biomaterials.

Cell Biology Branch

This branch supports general studies on the molecular and biochemical activities of cells and subcellular components, as well as on the role of cellular dysfunction in disease. Emphasis is placed on research with applications to more than one cell type, model system, or disease state, as well as research that does not fall within the disease-oriented mission of another of the National Institutes of Health. Representative studies include those on plasma and intracellular membranes, receptors, and signal transduction mechanisms; the structure and function of the cytoskeleton; cell motility; the regulation of protein and membrane synthesis and the activation of cell growth; subcellular organelles; cell division; and lipid biochemistry.

Structural Genomics and Proteomics Technology Branch

This branch supports studies that take a genomics or computational approach to determining protein structures and functions. Such research includes the development of high-throughput methods for protein structure determination, bioinformatics as it relates to the analysis of protein structures en masse, and the development of mass spectroscopy and other tools for the rapid analysis of biological molecules.

The branch is responsible for monitoring the research centers and research grants associated with the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI). This responsibility also includes developing a database of model structures and a repository for the distribution of materials resulting from the PSI.

For more information about the NIGMS Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, contact:

Dr. Catherine Lewis
Director, Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200

This page last updated November 19, 2008