Cell and Molecular Biology
The mission for Penn Vet’s division of Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) is to resolve the basic molecular mechanisms that ensure proper cell, tissue and organ development and function.
Particular focus is given to resolving critical cellular mechanisms that, when defective, cause animal and human diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and immunological and metabolic disorders.
The School’s CMB laboratories study a diverse range of topics using a variety of model organisms, including yeast, flies, frogs, tissue culture cells, mice, rats and dogs. Current research topics include signal transduction, cell cycle regulation, oncogenesis, chromatin remodeling, regulation of gene expression, mitochondrial function, cytoskeletal regulation, cellular morphogenesis, immunology, germ cell development, stem cell maintenance and embryonic development.
Many CMB principle investigators are also members of Penn Vet’s various research centers, including the Mari Lowe Center for Comparative Oncology Research, the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In addition, each CMB investigator plays an integral role in veterinary and post-graduate education. CMB investigators are particularly active in teaching the basic principles of Veterinary Anatomy, Biochemistry, Developmental Biology, Histology, Pharmacology and Physiology to veterinary students.
Cell and Molecular Biology Spotlight
Dr. Makoto Senoo, a recognized expert in the field of epithelial stem cell biology, has recently joined the Department of Animal Biology as the first recruit of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Senoo earned his Ph.D. in 2002 at Tokai University School of Medicine in Japan and conducted his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School until 2007. Dr. Senoo’s research focuses on adult stem cell and epithelial tissue development. Epithelial tissues are among the most highly regenerative tissues in the body and are the source of most human cancers. The regenerative capacity of epithelial tissues is dependent on adult stem cells, which, like embryonic stem (ES) cells, possess extraordinary proliferative capacity. Until very recently, the genes necessary for long-term proliferation of adult stem cells were unknown. Dr. Senoo recently discovered and characterized the key, lineage-specific determinant for maintaining the proliferative potential of epithelial stem cells (Cell 129: 523-536, 2007). His work provides major insight to the mechanism of epithelial tissue regeneration and adult stem cell maintenance and has mechanistic implications for epithelial cancer development. Dr. Senoo’s research goals at the School of Veterinary Medicine are to understand adult stem cell biology and to develop novel therapeutics for regenerative medicine.