Developmental biologists try to understand how the basic components of molecular biology and biochemistry, i.e., transcription, signal transduction, and cell-to-cell communication, are utilized in developmental pathways. The Department has several excellent examples of this intellectual approach and the research projects span invertebrate and vertebrate systems. The lab of Oliver Hobert uses the nematode C.elegans to understand how individual cell types in the nervous system develop
Two central problems in modern biology are how genes are transcriptionally regulated and how extracellular signals influence gene expression. These questions comprise the focus of several labs in the Department. The Hobert lab studies the regulation of neuron-type specific gene expression programs through transcription factors and miRNA
The Department is a leading institution for solving macromolecular structures of biomolecules and their complexes using X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy and other methods. These studies are complemented by active programs in macromolecular function and structural analysis, including research in macromolecular dynamics, computational biology, electrostatics and bioinformatics.
Understanding of the nervous system has advanced to the point where many problems in neurobiology can be approached at the molecular level. Columbia University is a leading center for studies in Neuroscience, and the Department is uniquely equipped for exploring the molecular basis of neuronal function, development and behavior.