Cell Biology Research Affinity Group

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The human body is made up of millions of individual cells, each of which is specialized to carry out a particular function. The defects in most diseases play out at the level of these individual cells. In many cases, this happens because genetic mutations in the DNA lead to the production of defective proteins needed for cellular function. For example, mutations in proteins that normally control cell growth lead to cancer, while mutations that prevent hormone secretion lead to abnormal organ development. In other cases, the cellular function of normal proteins is impacted by environmental factors; this can result in complex diseases like asthma and obesity.

Whether diseases are genetic or acquired, understanding what goes wrong at the cellular level is essential to developing effective therapies. However, the path to increased understanding represents a significant challenge: there are many specialized cell types, and investigators must address how specific mutations or environmental changes affect the processes that these cells carry out selectively.

Research conducted in Cell Biology Research Affinity Group at Children’s Hospital focuses on investigating normal cellular function, and how this function is perturbed in diseased tissues. In particular, the group is working with physicians and geneticists to understand how genetic mutations in important proteins lead to defective cellular function, and on using this information to develop new therapies. The group provides a unique forum for investigators from multiple disciplines to work together, thereby improving the effectiveness of their research.

Shared instruments in the Protein Core Facility and numerous other resources all allow group members in the affinity group to interact and gain valuable feedback on ongoing research.