Division Chief: Nicholas E. Baker, PhD
The data available from the human genome sequencing project, from the gene sequence of other organisms, and the rapidly advancing information about the gene variants associated with disease, make it essential to understand the functions of each gene, how the genes contribute to biological and physiological processes, and what are the consequences of genetic alterations and variability. The goal of the Division of Molecular Genetics is to use molecular and genetic techniques to discover and study the function of genes and their contributions to basic biological mechanisms, health, and disease. Such studies, which make use of organisms such as yeast, the nematode C. elegans, the fruitfly D. melanogaster, and mice, as well as human cells in culture, have already contributed a major part of what is known about modern biology and medicine, and serve as a basis for translational research to develop new medical treatments.
Current research in the Division addresses topics in growth, development, and aging, the structure and function of the nervous system in development and behavior, the regulation of gene expression, and the properties of human viruses. These are described in more detail under individual research laboratories. The research is particularly relevant to the development and treatment of cancers, AIDS, and of neurological and behavioral disorders, as well as aging. As the Department of Genetics grows, it is expected that the new Divisions of Translational Genetics and of Computational Genetics will provide new opportunities to enhance and apply the research of the Molecular Genetics Division.