Molecular and Cell Biology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology offers a program of graduate study leading to the PhD in molecular and cell biology. This program provides advanced training in the research methods and concepts of the study of the molecular structures and processes of cellular life. The training is intellectually focused, but at the same time offers an unusually wide range of opportunities for varied disciplinary specialization.

The teaching and research activities of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) concern the molecular structures and processes of cellular life and their roles in the function, reproduction, and development of living organisms.

This agenda covers a broad range of specialized disciplines, including biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, structural biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, tumor biology, microbiology, immunology, pathogenesis, and neurobiology.

The types of living organisms from which the departmental faculty draws its working materials are as diverse as its disciplinary specializations, ranging from viruses and microbes through plants, roundworms, annelids, arthropods, and mollusks to fish, amphibia, and mammals.

The faculty is organized into five divisions: Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology; Cell and Developmental Biology; Genetics, Genomics and Development; Immunology and Pathogenesis and Neurobiology.

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Admissions

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

Normative time to advancement is two years.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Normative time in candidacy is 3.5 years.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is 5.5 years

Time to Advancement

Curriculum

MCELLBI 200AFundamentals of Molecular and Cell Biology3
MCELLBI 200BFundamentals of Molecular and Cell Biology3
MCELLBI 291AIntroduction to Research2-12
MCELLBI 291BIntroduction to Research2-12
MCELLBI 293AResearch Seminar2
MCELLBI 293CResponsible Conduct in Research1
MCELLBI 380Teaching of Molecular and Cell Biology (2 courses)1-2
Two MCELLBI advanced topics electives6-8
MCELLBI 290Graduate Seminar (3)1
MCELLBI 292Research3-12

Courses

Molecular and Cell Biology

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Faculty

Hillel Adesnik, Assistant Professor.

Georjana Barnes, Professor. Biochemistry, genetics, cancer, biology, microtubule cytoskeleton, cell cycle controls, cellular imaging.
Research Profile

Gregory M. Barton, Professor. Immunology, cell biology, infectious disease, innate immunity.
Research Profile

Helen Bateup, Assistant Professor. Molecular and cellular neuroscience, neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, epilepsy.
Research Profile

Diana Bautista, Associate Professor. Ion channels, sensory physiology, chemosensation, touch, thermosensation, somatosensory system.
Research Profile

David Bilder, Professor. Genetics, cancer, Drosophila, cell biology, cell polarity, tumor suppressor, epithelial architecture, polarity, and proliferation control.
Research Profile

Michael R. Botchan, Professor. Eukaryotic gene expression, drosophila chromosomes, papilloma viral DNA, chromosomal dynamics.
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Gloria Brar, Assistant Professor. Meiosis, translation, sORFs, stress responses.
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Steve Brohawn, Assistant Professor.
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Carlos J. Bustamante, Professor. Nanoscience, structural characterization of nucleo-protein assemblies, single molecule fluorescence microscopy, DNA-binding molecular motors, the scanning force microscope, prokaryotes.
Research Profile

Jamie Cate, Professor. Molecular basis for protein synthesis by the ribosome, RNA, antibiotics, a thermophilic bacterium, escherichia coli.
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Christopher J. Chang, Professor. Chemistry, inorganic chemistry, neuroscience, bioinorganic chemistry, general physiology, organic chemistry, new chemical tools for biological imaging and proteomics, new metal complexes for energy catalysis and green chemistry, chemical biology.
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Michelle Chang, Associate Professor.

Kathleen Collins, Professor. RNA, telomerase, Telomere function, Telomere replication.
Research Profile

Jacob E. Corn, Assistant Adjunct Professor.

Laurent Coscoy, Associate Professor. Immunology, viruses, viral infection, immune responses, immune evasion.
Research Profile

Jeffery S. Cox, Professor.

Yang Dan, Professor. Neuronal circuits, mammalian visual system, electrophysiological, psychophysical and computational techniques, visual cortical circuits, visual neurons.
Research Profile

Xavier Darzacq, Assistant Professor.

Abby Dernburg, Professor. Genomics, chromosome remodeling and reorganization during meiosis, Down syndrome, DNA.
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Andrew Dillin, Professor.

Jennifer A. Doudna, Professor. RNA machines, hepatitis C virus, RNA interference, ribosomes.
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David G. Drubin, Professor. Cellular morphogenesis, plasma membrane dynamics, microtubule cytoskeletons, cytoskeletal proteins, morphological development.
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Peter H. Duesberg, Professor. Genetic structure of retroviruses, carcinogenesis, aneuploidy, virology, HIV-AIDS.
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Michael B. Eisen, Professor. Genomics, genome sequencing, bioinformatics, animal development.
Research Profile

+ Dan Feldman, Associate Professor. Neurobiology, learning, neurophysiology, sensory biology.
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Marla B. Feller, Professor. Neurophysiology, developmental neuroscience.
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+ Gary L. Firestone, Professor. Cancer, steroid hormones, molecular endocrinology, tumor biology, growth factors, dietary compounds, tumor cells, glucocorticoids.
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John Gerard Flannery, Professor. Neurobiology, optometry, vision science, cell and molecular biology of the retina in normal and diseased states.
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Hernan G. Garcia, Assistant Professor.

Gian Garriga, Professor. Developmental neurobiology; molecular genetics, development of nervous systems, cell division, cell migration, axonal pathfinding, caenorhabditis elegans.
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Britt Glaunsinger, Associate Professor. Virology, gene expression, herpesvirus.
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Ming Chen Hammond, Assistant Professor. Molecular biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, synthetic biology, chemical biology.
Research Profile

Iswar Krishna Hariharan, Professor. Growth regulation, regeneration, cancer.
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Richard M. Harland, Professor. Molecular biology, early vertebrate development, Xenopus, embryo development.
Research Profile

Lin He, Associate Professor.

Rebecca Heald, Professor. Cell division, Xenopus, mitotic spindle assembly and function, size control of intracellular structures.
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Dirk Hockemeyer, Assistant Professor.

James Hurley, Professor.

Nicholas Ingolia, Assistant Professor. Ribosome Profiling, translation, genomics.
Research Profile

Ehud Y. Isacoff, Professor. Ion channel function, synaptic plasticity, neural excitability, synaptic transmission, the synapse.
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Gary H. Karpen, Adjunct Professor. Gene expression, cell biology, chromosome structure and function, drosophila melanogaster, centromere identity and function.
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Nicole King, Professor. Genetics, developmental biology, biology, choanoflagellates, multicellularity, evolution of animals, comparative genomics, eukaryotes, host-microbe interactions, bacterial signals.
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Douglas E. Koshland, Professor. Higher order chromosome structure, genome integrity, sister chromatid cohesion, chromosome condensation, desiccation tolerance, microbial genetics.
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Richard H. Kramer, Professor. Cells, synaptic transmission, chemical signaling between neurons, ion channels, electrical signals, chemical reagents, synapses.
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John Kuriyan, Professor. Structural and functional studies of signal transduction, DNA replication, cancer therapies, phosphorylation.
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Stephan Lammel, Assistant Professor. Neuroscience, Optogenetics, dopamine, addiction, depression.
Research Profile

Michael S. Levine, Professor. Regulation of enhancer-promoter interactions, gene networks, animal development and disease, drosophila embryo, immune response in drosophila larvae, differentiation of the notochord and heart in the sea squirt, whole-genome analysis.
Research Profile

Polina Lishko, Assistant Professor. Reproductive and Developmental Biology, ion channels, Physiology of Fertilization and Early Embryo Development.
Research Profile

Kunxin Luo, Professor. Signal transduction pathways, mechanisms controlling the receptor kinases, regulation of mammary epithelial cell differentiation, breast carcinogenesis.
Research Profile

Terry Machen, Professor. Physiology pathophysiology secretory epithelial cells, airway, ion transport, cell regulationm, imaging microscopy, calcium pH redox, electrophysiology, green fluorescent protein, genetic targeting, innate immune defense.
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Michael A. Marletta, Professor. Chemical biology, molecular biology, structure/function relationships in proteins, catalytic and biological properties of enzymes, cellular signaling, nitric oxide synthase, soluble guanylate cyclase, gas sensing, cellulose degradation, polysaccharide monooxygenases.
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Susan Marqusee, Professor. Amino acids, determinants of protein structure and folding, biophysical, structural and computational techniques, translocation, protein synthesis.
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Andreas Martin, Associate Professor. Proteasome.
Research Profile

G. Steven Martin, Professor. Cell biology, signal transduction pathways, tumor virology, cell division cycle, viral and cellular oncoproteins, breast cancer.
Research Profile

Barbara J. Meyer, Professor. Developmental biology, gene expression, genetic determination of sex, regulatory genes, chromosome dynamics, X-chromosome.
Research Profile

Craig Miller, Assistant Professor. Genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, evolution, quantitative genetics, developmental genetics, evolutionary genetics, craniofacial development.
Research Profile

Evan W. Miller, Assistant Professor.

John Ngai, Professor. Nervous system, molecular and cellular mechanisms of olfaction, detection of odors, odorant receptors, olfactory neurons, DNA microarray technologies, genome-wide patterns of gene expression.
Research Profile

Eva Nogales, Professor. Biochemistry, complex biological assemblies, structure and regulation of the cytoskeleton, microtubule dynamics, human transcriptional initiation machinery, biophysics.
Research Profile

George Oster, Professor. Computational biology, developmental biology, mathematical modeling of molecular and cellular systems, protein motors, cell motility, spatial pattern formation in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, neural pattern formation.
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Lior Pachter, Professor. Mathematics, applications of statistics, combinatorics to problems in biology.
Research Profile

Nipam Patel, Professor. Genetics, evolution, crustaceans, insects, arthropods, homeotic (Hox) genes, segmentation, embryonic pattern formation, neural patterning.
Research Profile

Mu-Ming Poo, Professor. Neurobiology, cellular and molecular mechanisms, axon guidance, synapse formation, activity-dependent refinement of neural circuits.
Research Profile

Daniel A. Portnoy, Professor. Mammalian cells, molecular and cellular basis of microbial pathogenesis, defense against infection, listeria monocytogenes, cell biology of infection, mechanisms of secretion.
Research Profile

Michael Rape, Professor. Cancer, protein degradation, siRNA, Berkeley Screening Center.
Research Profile

David H. Raulet, Professor. Biology, pathogens, viruses, T-cell development and function, natural killer (NK) cells, lymphocyte receptors, microorganisms, cancer cells, tumor immunity.
Research Profile

+ Jasper D. Rine, Professor. Biology, cell biology, DNA replication, gene regulation, saccharomyces cerevisiae, genetic analysis, genome, cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, modification of proteins, prenylated proteins.
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Donald C. Rio, Professor. Molecular genetics, drosophila melanogaster, transposable elements, RNA splicing, nucleic acid rearrangement reactions, P elements and their cellular host, HIV, proteomic diversification, nucleoprotein complexes.
Research Profile

Ellen Robey, Professor. Fate determination in the T-lymphocyte lineage, T cell development in the mouse, thymic development, cellular maturation, parasitic infection, chronic infection, host-pathogen interactions, Toxoplasma gondii.
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Henk Roelink, Associate Professor. Stem cells, neural development, embryonic induction.
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Daniel S. Rokhsar, Professor. Biology, collective phenomena and ordering in condensed matter and biological systems, theoretical modeling, computational modeling, behavior of quantum fluids, cold atomic gases, high temperature superconductors, Fermi and Bose systems.
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Kaoru Saijo, Assistant Professor.

David Savage, Assistant Professor. Synthetic biology and metabolism.
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David Schaffer, Professor. Neuroscience, biomolecular engineering, bioengineering, stem cell biology, gene therapy.
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Randy W. Schekman, Professor. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, organelle assembly, intracellular protein transport, assembly of cellular organelles, Alzheimer's Disease.
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Kristin Scott, Professor. Nerve cell connectivity in developing nervous systems, taste perception in the fruit fly, taste neural circuits, sensory maps in the brain.
Research Profile

Bill Sha, Associate Professor. B cell gene regulation, fate determination, gene regulatory pathways, antibody-secreting plasma cells, memory B cells, apoptotic cells, B7 costimulatory ligands.
Research Profile

+ Nilabh Shastri, Professor. Cancer cells, mechanims of immunesurveillance, microbial pathogens, antigen genes, autoimmunity.
Research Profile

Sarah Stanley, Assistant Professor.

Jeremy W. Thorner, Professor. Biochemistry, molecular genetics, cell biology, signal transduction mechanisms, protein kinase function and regulation, GPCRs, membrane biology, control of cell growth/morphology and division, regulation of gene expression by extracellular stimuli.
Research Profile

Robert T. Tjian, Professor. Eukaryotic molecular biology; biochemistry, cellular differentiation, chromatin function, RNA synthesis, single cell imaging, single molecule imaging.
Research Profile

Elcin Unal, Assistant Professor.

Fyodor Urnov, Associate Adjunct Professor.

Russell E. Vance, Professor. Immunology, microbiology, infectious disease, molecular and cell biology.
Research Profile

David A. Weisblat, Professor. Annelid developmental biology, leech embryo, evolution and development, cell fate determination, lineage tracingt.
Research Profile

Matthew D. Welch, Professor. Biology, cell motility, the role of the actin cytoskeleton in cell locomotion, shape change, actin filament assembly, bacterial and viral pathogens.
Research Profile

Astar Winoto, Professor. Cancer, genomics, apoptosis, innate immunity and infectious diseases, cell cycle, signal transduction, immune tolerance.
Research Profile

Ahmet Yildiz, Assistant Professor. Single molecule biophysics, molecular motors, telomeres.
Research Profile

Qiang Zhou, Professor. Biochemistry of HIV gene expression, transcriptional elongation, Tat activation, stage of transcriptional elongation, HIV replication, anti-HIV therapy.
Research Profile

Roberto Zoncu, Assistant Professor.

Lecturers

Robin W. Ball, Lecturer.

P. Robert Beatty, Lecturer.

Natalia Caporale, Lecturer.

Isabelle Le Blanc, Lecturer.

Helen Lew, Lecturer.

David E. Presti, Senior Lecturer SOE.

Steve Takata, Lecturer.

Gary Joseph Wedemayer, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Tamira M. Elul, Visiting Associate Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

Mark Alper, Professor Emeritus.

Bruce N. Ames, Professor Emeritus. Molecular biology, cancer, aging, mitochondrial decay, oxidants and antioxidants, micronutrient deficiencies and DNA damage, chronic inflammation and cancer.
Research Profile

Giovanna F.-L. Ames, Professor Emeritus.

Clinton E. Ballou, Professor Emeritus.

Steven K. Beckendorf, Professor Emeritus. Genetics, biology, organogenesis, Drosophila, salivary morphogenesis.
Research Profile

David R. Bentley, Professor Emeritus.

Phyllis B. Blair, Professor Emeritus.

Beth Burnside, Professor Emeritus. Cell biology of photoreceptors, cytoskeletal motors, morphogenetic events, photomembrane turnover.
Research Profile

Richard Calendar, Professor Emeritus. Listeria monocytogenes, phage-based integration vector, Bacillus anthracis, vaccine.
Research Profile

W. Zacheus Cande, Professor Emeritus. Genetics, cell biology, microbial biology, plant biology.
Research Profile

M. J. Chamberlin, Professor Emeritus.

Alvin J. Clark, Professor Emeritus.

Thomas W. Cline, Professor Emeritus. Drosophila melanogaster, developmental genetics, sex determination.
Research Profile

R. David Cole, Professor Emeritus.

John Gerhart, Professor Emeritus. Developmental biology, Xenopus laevis, Spemann's organizer, cortical rotation, cell cycle after fertilization, vegetal materials, blastula stage, egg cytoplasm.
Research Profile

Robert M. Glaeser, Professor Emeritus.

Alexander N. Glazer, Professor Emeritus. Photosynthetic systems, phycobiliproteins, design of fluorescent probes, protein structure-function relationships, macromolecular complexes, environmental sciences, natural resource management.
Research Profile

Stuart M. Linn, Professor Emeritus. Biology, enzymology of DNA metabolism, DNA repair and replication in mammalian cells, mechanisms of DNA damage by reactive oxygen species, structure of iron: DNA complexes, DNA damage and repair, DNA polymerases.
Research Profile

Robert I. Macey, Professor Emeritus.

Howard C. Mel, Professor Emeritus.

Hsiao-Ping H. Moore, Professor Emeritus.

Satyabrata Nandi, Professor Emeritus.

Alexander V. Nichols, Professor Emeritus.

Hiroshi Nikaido, Professor Emeritus. Membrane biochemistry, bacterial physiology, bacteria, channel-forming proteins of the outer membrane, the diffusion of lipophilic compounds, mechanism and regulation of multidrug efflux transport systems, mycobacterial cell wall.
Research Profile

W. Geoffrey Owen, Professor Emeritus. Biology, nervous system, membrane biophysics, retinal neurophysiology.
Research Profile

Edward E. Penhoet, Professor Emeritus. Public health, health policy and management.
Research Profile

Gerald M. Rubin, Professor Emeritus. Molecular genetics, molecular neurobiology, mapping and sequencing of the drosophila genome, genome organization and function, development and evolution.
Research Profile

Harry Rubin, Professor Emeritus. Tumor biology, cell biology, regulation of neoplastic development, epithelial cells, oncogenic mutations, tumor development, RNA and DNA tumor viruses.
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Howard K. Schachman, Professor Emeritus. Physical biochemistry, biological macromolecules, aspartate transcarbamylase, revisiting allostery, holoenzyme, mutations, polypeptide chains, helical regions.
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Herbert H. Srebnik, Professor Emeritus.

Frank S. Werblin, Professor Emeritus. Retina, biological image processing, visual neuroscience.
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Gerald Westheimer, Professor Emeritus. Neurobiology; psychophysics, primate visual cortex, neural circuits, brain mechanisms, response modifications, active perception, learning, stereoscopic vision, optometryoptics of the eye, ophthalmic instrumentation.
Research Profile

Fred H. Wilt, Professor Emeritus. Molecular embryology; cell biology, the regulation of gene expression, of sea urchin embryos, blastomeres, endoskeletal spicule of the larva, glycoproteins, immunoelectron microscopy, fluorescent labeling.
Research Profile

Leon Wofsy, Professor Emeritus.

Robert S. Zucker, Professor Emeritus. Synaptic transmission, cellular neurophysiology; synaptic biophysics, properties of neural circuits, photolysis, vital dyes of vesicle membrane, electrophysiological techniques, neuromodulator.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

497 Life Sciences Addition

Phone: 510-642-2651

Visit Department Website

Department Co-Chair

David Drubin, PhD

610 Barker Hall

Phone: 510-642-3692

drubin@berkeley.edu

Department Co-Chair

Nipam Patel, PhD

515 Life Sciences Addition

Phone: (510) 643-4605

nipam@berkeley.edu

Head Graduate Adviser

Iswar Hariharan, PhD

299 Life Sciences Addition

Phone: 510-642-5252

ikh@berkeley.edu

Graduate Advising

Graduate Affairs Office

299 Life Sciences Addition

Phone: 510-642-5252

mcbgao@berkeley.edu

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