Cell signaling and cell physiology are areas of research that are gaining prominence due to rapid advances in biophysical methods and the integration of these methods with molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics. These advances have allowed studies of molecular processes in the context of the integrated behavior of cells and their organelles, and of tissues and organs, and whole organisms. In addition, the application of theoretical mathematical models to this research is providing unique insights into how the ensemble behaviors of ion channels, pumps and cellular signaling systems determine cell behavior, and how groups of cells cooperatively determine the behavior of complex tissues such as the brain.
Current research in biophysics at Berkeley includes the study of the function and regulation of ion channels and transporters, the protein signaling pathways that regulate cell division and growth, the mechanisms of muscle contraction, nerve secretion, and synaptic plasticity, and the membrane dynamics and trafficking that underlies secretion, membrane wound healing, and signaling by organelles. A strength of the Biophysics Group is in the development and application of novel optical and chemical methods for making real-time high spatial resolution measurements of protein activity and second messenger levels in specific subcellular compartments of cells in intact tissue. Research is focused on both the elucidation of biological mechanisms and the development of genetic therapies for human diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration in the retina. Promising advances in synthetic biology are also being made here at Berkeley as knowledge of cell signaling and physiology grows.
Other research areas:
Structural Biophysics and Protein Dynamics
Molecular Microscopy and Optical Probes
Computational Biology and Genomics
Brain Imaging and Bioelectronics