University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut


Kenneth Campellone
Assistant Professor

Cytoskeletal Dynamics, Membrane Remodeling, and Autophagy. My lab investigates (1) how actin and microtubules control the organization, shape, and movement of membrane-bound organelles and (2) how cytoskeleton-driven membrane remodeling is altered in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, genetic disorders, and aging. We use a combination of bioinformatic, genetic, biochemical, and cellular approaches to study these processes.  Visit the Campellone Lab Website.

Thomas T. Chen

Molecular and Developmental Endocrinology. Structure and regulation of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor genes and actions of their gene products in finfish and shellfish; application transgenic finfish and shellfish in aquaculture; molecular toxicology.

Charles Giardina
Associate Professor

Cell Signalling and Gene Regulation. Mechanisms of aberrant gene expression in colon cancer cells. Effects of chromatin structure on cellular genetic programming. Visit the Giardina Lab Website.

David Goldhamer

Developmental Biology, Muscle Development, Adult Stem Cells. Research Interests: Regulation of cell fates in mammalian embryos. Transcriptional regulation and function of skeletal muscle regulatory factors. Muscle stem cell function and plasticity, muscle regeneration in injured and diseased muscle, cell biology of heterotopic bone formation in human disease.


Aoife Heaslip
Assistant Professor

Toxoplasma gondii cell biology and host-pathogen interactions. My Lab is focused on understanding the biology of human pathogen Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite and the causative agent of Toxoplasmosis. Parasite survival and hence disease pathogenesis rely on its ability to secrete proteins from specialized secretory organelles, called the dense granules, into the host. We are using a combination of parasite cell biology, live cell imaging and single molecule biophysics to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying dense granule transport and secretion. By understanding the mechanisms underlying this essential process it is our goal to identify new targets for the development of anti-parasitic drugs.

Cytoskeleton and Cell Motility, Nanotoxicology. Molecular genetics of the actin cytoskeleton/Cell Motility. Actin binding proteins: Cell motility driven by the actin cytoskeleton is important for normal development, proper functioning of the immune system, and are altered in metastatic cancer cells. Our lab uses molecular genetics and GFP/RFP fluorescent protein fusions in conjunction with advanced microscopy techniques to visualize actin dynamics in mammalian cells and Dictyostelium amoebae and to construct mutant cell lines with altered cytoskeletal structural proteins. Models for several human diseases associated with actin binding protein mutations are being created. Collaboration with Dr. Juliet Lee examines the biomechanics of motility in cells with cytoskeletal mutations. Sliicosis. Inhalation of silica particles causes lung inflammation leading to the chronic inflammatory lung disease silicosis. The mechanism by which macrophages recognize and take up silica particles and other nanomaterials and the mechanism of toxicity are being investigated. Macropinocytosis. A collection of mutants with alterations in macropinocytosis has been created in order to understand the molecular basis of this important process. Mutated genes are currently being isolated and characterized. Visit the Knecht Lab Website

Juliet Lee
Associate Professor

Cytoskeleton and Cell Motility. Cell movement is a highly complex phenomenon which is itself composed of several other “motile processes”, such as protrusion, adhesion, contraction and detachment. The overall aim of my work is to understand how molecular mechanisms and biomechanical properties are integrated at the cellular level to produce movement. This requires learning how the dynamic behavior of the actin cytoskeleton and cell – substratum adhesion formation is regulated both spatially and temporally. I am particularly interested in the mechano – chemical regulation of cell movement as this is important for understanding the interrelationship between molecular processes, force production, cell morphology and movement. So far my studies have focused primarily on fish epithelial keratocytes because their rapid, relatively simple mode of movement is best suited for discerning the basic principles which relate molecular events to whole cell movement. I use a combination of techniques including fluorescence video microscopy, calcium imaging, photoactivation, and force detection assays to observe molecular, cellular and biophysical aspects of cell movement.


Michael Lynes
Professor & MCB Department Head

Immunobiology, Immunotoxicology, Metallothionein Function. Biochemical regulation of anergy. Role of metallothionein in the regulation of stress-mediated immunomodulation, Real-time biosensors. Leukocyte chemotaxis and phagocytosis. Visit the Lynes Lab Website.

Adam Zweifach
Associate Professor & CDB Graduate Program Head

Immune Cell Signalling Cell. Research in my lab is focused on the role of intracellular calcium signaling in the function of T lymphocytes. We are currently using a combination of molecular, biochemical and functional approaches- including fluoresence microscopy and flow cytometry- to investigate three areas. First, what are the calcium-dependent effector proteins involved in cytototoxic T lymphocyte lytic granule exocytosis? Second, what SNARE proteins and synaptotagmins are involved in CTL granule exocytosis and cytokine secretion by helper T cells? Third, is activation of the calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin sufficient to promote cytokine secretion from helper cells, or are there multiple calcium-dependent steps? Visit the Zweifach Lab Website

Other MCB Faculty Affiliated with Cell Biology

J. Peter Gogarten, Professor.
Evolution of structure and function of ATPases/ATPsynthases; the early evolution of eukaryotic cells; molecular evolution of membrane proteins; horizontal gene transfer and gene duplications.

Barbara Mellone, Assistant Professor.
Research Interests: Normal inheritance of genetic material requires that chromosomes segregate faithfully during mitosis and meiosis. The kinetochore is a unique structure that attaches chromosomes to the microtubule spindle, monitors proper chromosome attachment to the spindle, and couples spindle and motor protein forces to move chromosomes during prometaphase and anaphase. The centromere is a specialized chromosomal site that is the structural and functional foundation for kinetochore formation, and is characterized by a unique type of chromatin that needs to be reconstituted after each replication cycle. My lab is interested in understanding how the centromere location is determined and how the centromere site is inherited through cell division. By using different molecular and imaging techniques we are dissecting pathways responsible for cell-cycle regulation, localization, and functional inter-dependence of centromere components using the fruitfly as model organism. Visit the Mellone Lab Website.

Kenneth M. Noll, Associate Professor.
Physiology and genetics of extremely thermophilic bacteria and archaea; early mechanisms of energy metabolism as exemplified by the use of elemental sulfur as an external electron acceptor; nature and evolution of the chromosomes of microorganisms. Visit the Noll Lab Website.

Rachel O’Neill, Professor.
We use molecular and cytogenetic techniques to study the genetics of centromere determinance; centromere function and evolution; chromosome evolution; speciation and hybrid dysgenesis in several model systems, including Mus, Peromyscus and several marsupial genera. We are also using these techniques to study species-specific placental development and evolution with respect to retroelement load; the evolution of transposable elements and retroviruses; and, the epigenetic effectors of gene expression and chromosome structure. Visit the R. O’Neill Website.

Carolyn M. Teschke, Professor.
Biochemical, biophysical, and mutational analysis of protein folding in vivo and in vitro; interaction of folding intermediates with molecular chaperones; virus assembly. Visit the Teschke Lab Website.

Ping Zhang, Associate Professor.
Chromosome structure and gene expression; The Y chromosome and spermatogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster; P-element insertional mutagenesis.

Active Emeritus MCB Faculty

Lawrence E. Hightower, Professor Emeritus.
Inducible molecular and cellular defenses against trauma; cellular stress response; heat shock response.

Hans Laufer, Professor Emeritus/Research Professor.
Gene regulation during development and reproduction; hormonal and molecular interactions; comparative endocrinology of invertebrates.

Faculty from other Departments Affiliated with Cell Biology

Brian Aneskievich, Assistant Professor, Pharmacology/Toxicology
Regulation of cell function and differentiation by xenobiotics (plasticizers, industrial toxins), drugs (anti-diabetic glitazones, fibrates), and vitamins and hormones (vitA, steroids) through activation of transcription factors in epithelial (skin, mammary) and non-epithelial (adipose) tissues.

Gabriel Fenteany, Associate Professor, Chemistry
Characterization of new drug-like compounds to understand and control cell migration in normal cells and cancer cells; mode of action of cell migration inhibitors and accelerators; signaling pathways involved in cell motility, particularly in epithelial cells, and mechanism underlying how groups of cells collectively generate force to drive movement of epithelial cell sheets.

Hedley Freake, Professor, Nutritional Sciences
Tissue specific regulation of gene expression by hormones and diet. Of principal interest is the regulation of the pathway of fatty acid synthesis by thyroid hormones and dietary carbohydrates. A second focus is the role of zinc in the functioning of the receptor for thyroid hormone and other members of the steroid/thyroid receptor superfamily.

Debra A. Kendall, Professor.
Identification of the physical properties of proteins which enhance membrane-associated processes. Systems under study include the signal peptide which facilitates transport of alkaline phosphatase in E. coli and the porin, PhoE, which is a channel for diffusion of anions. Her approach to these systems uses mutagenesis and gene construction methods to insert new structural segments within the protein. The mutant sequences are designed to probe the role of conformation, the pattern of hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues, folding patterns and overall topology. The properties of these mutant sequences are evaluated in vivo and by physical analyses in model systems.

Joe Loturco, Professor, Physiology and Neurobiology
The research goals in my laboratory are to define the cellular events and mechanisms underlying the generation and migration of neurons within the developing neocortex of the brain. We focus our studies on the cellular functions of proteins that when mutated in humans and animal models cause epilepsy, learning disorders, and structural malformations. Our experiments make use of multiple approaches and technologies including genetic models, in utero RNAi, cell culture systems, retrovirus-mediated gene-transfer, and electrophysiological and neuroanatomical assays. With this combination of approaches we strive to gain insights into how the most sophisticated computing device in nature is constructed, and how its malformation leads to neurological disease. Visit the LoTurco Lab Website

Ted Rasmussen, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Center for Regenerative Biology
Future cell-based therapies aim to alleviate suffering caused by degenerative disease through the replacement of damaged cells with functional derivatives of pluripotent stem cells. My lab is investigating the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in embryonic stem cells and its impact on the maintenance of pluripotency and differentiation. In addition, we are developing novel methods to reprogram somatic cells to yield patient-matched pluripotent mutations.Sliicosis. cells, and designing new methods for the investigation of reprogramming and epigenetic function in mammalian cells. My lab employs methods and assays drawn from stem cell biology, cell biology, molecular genetics, functional genomics, chromatin molecular biology, and others. Visit Dr. Rasmussen’s Website

Larry Silbart, Associate Professor, Animal Sciences
The development of mucosal vaccines capable of blocking the absorption toxicants such as aflatoxin from the diet; and the development of peptide-based vaccines for blocking the transmission of HIV across the vaginal mucosa.

Cindy Tian, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences
The research interest of Dr X Cindy Tian is to understand nuclear reprogramming, the process of converting a differentiated somatic cell into a totipotent stage by the somatic cloning technology. Since the creation of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult differentiated somatic cell, a long-held dogma in developmental biology, that the process of tissue differentiation in mammals was irreversible, was revolutionized. We now believe that a differentiated mammalian somatic cell can be converted to a totipotent stage by somatic cloning. The process of this reversed differentiation is the fundamental basis for tissue regeneration by therapeutic cloning in which somatic cells are converted to embryonic stem cells and the desired tissue types are targetedly differentiated from the newly generated stem cells.