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Cell, Evolutionary and Molecular Biology Research

(Bald Eagle, Seattle, U.S.A. - Jeff M. Wang)


- Overview

"Rapid advances in biology have had a major impact on our society. From the production of new drugs, to revolutionary advances in our understanding of how cells work, the areas of cell and molecular biology have contributed to our lives in a number of ways. Training in these areas is essential for careers in medicine, pharmacology, biochemistry, virology, immunology, developmental biology, and in a number of the high-tech industries. From agriculture to the space program, fundamental information from these areas has had enormous impact on the changes that have occurred in our generation." -- [Duke University]

Research in this category includes cellular and molecular processes at levels ranging from single molecule to single cell to tissue and organ systems.


- Cell Biology

  • "Cell biology is a branch of biology that studies the structure and function of the cell, which is the basic unit of life. Cell biology is concerned with the physiological properties, metabolic processes, signaling pathways, life cycle, chemical composition and interactions of the cell with their environment. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level as it encompasses prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. Knowing the components of cells and how cells work is fundamental to all biological sciences; it is also essential for research in bio-medical fields such as cancer, and other diseases. Research in cell biology is closely related to genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology and cytochemistry." -- [Wikipedia
  • "Cell biology is the academic discipline that studies the basic unit of living things, cells. Cells are the smallest independently functioning unit in the structure of an organism and usually consist of a nucleus surrounded by cytoplasm and enclosed by a membrane. Cell biology examines, on microscopic and molecular levels, the physiological properties, structure, organelles (such as nuclei and mitochondria), interactions, life cycle, division and death of these basic units of organisms. Cell biology research extends to both the great diversity of single-celled organisms, such as bacteria and the many specialized cells in multicellular organisms, such as animals and plants." -- [Bioscience]  
  • "The cell is the structural and functional unit of all living organisms, and is sometimes called the "building block of life." Some organisms, such as bacteria, are unicellular, consisting of a single cell. Other organisms, such as humans, are multicellular, (humans have an estimated 100 trillion cells; a typical cell size is 10 µm, a typical cell mass 1 nanogram). The largest known cell is an ostrich egg. Each cell is at least somewhat self-contained and self-maintaining: it can take in nutrients, convert these nutrients into energy, carry out specialized functions, and reproduce as necessary. Each cell stores its own set of instructions for carrying out each of these activities. There are two types of cells, eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Prokaryotic cells are usually singletons, while eukaryotic cells are usually found in multi-cellular organisms." -- [ScienceDaily
  • Cells provide six main functions. They provide structure and support, facilitate growth through mitosis, allow passive and active transport, produce energy, create metabolic reactions and aid in reproduction." -- [Sciencing
  • "Cell biology is the study of cell structure and function, and it revolves around the concept that the cell is the fundamental unit of life. Focusing on the cell permits a detailed understanding of the tissues and organisms that cells compose. Some organisms have only one cell, while others are organized into cooperative groups with huge numbers of cells. On the whole, cell biology focuses on the structure and function of a cell, from the most general properties shared by all cells, to the unique, highly intricate functions particular to specialized cells." -- [Nature


- Evolutionary Biology

Evolutionary biology is a subdiscipline of the biological sciences concerned with the origin of life and the diversification and adaptation of life forms over time.

We live in an exciting time for biology. Technological advances have made data collection easier and cheaper than we could ever have imagined just 10 years ago. We can now synthesize and analyze large data sets containing genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and multivariate phenotypes. At the same time, society's need for the results of biological research has never been greater. Solutions to many of the world's most pressing problems - feeding a global population, coping with climate change, preserving ecosystems and biodiversity, curing and preventing genetically based diseases—will rely heavily on biologists, collaborating across disciplines.


- Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is a branch of science that considers the nature and structure of living organisms at the molecular level. Scientists who study molecular biology look at the interactions between various systems of the cell, including the DNA, RNA and the process of protein synthesis. Cell biology, meanwhile, is typically more focused on the structure and functions at the cellular level, and not necessarily the genetic impact on the larger organism. 

Molecular biology is the study of life at the level of atoms and molecules. Suppose, for example, that one wishes to understand as much as possible about an earthworm. At one level, it is possible to describe the obvious characteristics of the worm, including its size, shape, color, weight, the foods it eats, and the way it reproduces. 

Long ago, however, biologists discovered that a more basic understanding of any organism could be obtained by studying the cells of which that organism is made. They could identify the structures of which cells are made, the way cells change, the substances needed by the cell to survive, products made by the cell, and other cellular characteristics. 

Molecular biology takes this analysis of life one step further. It attempts to study the molecules of which living organisms are made in much the same way that chemists study any other kind of molecule. For example, they try to find out the chemical structure of these molecules and the way this structure changes during various life processes, such as reproduction and growth. In their research, molecular biologists make use of ideas and tools from many different sciences, including chemistry, biology, and physics. 

The key principle that dominates molecular biology is known as the Central Dogma. (A dogma is an established belief.) The Central Dogma is based on two facts. The first fact is that the key players in the way any cell operates are proteins. Proteins are very large, complex molecules made of smaller units known as amino acids. A typical protein might consist, as an example, of a few thousand amino acid molecules joined to each other end-to-end. Proteins play a host of roles in cells. They are the building blocks from which cell structures are made; they act as hormones (chemical messengers) that deliver messages from one part of a cell to another or from one cell to another cell; and they act as enzymes, compounds that speed up the rate at which chemical reactions take place in cells.

The second basic fact is that proteins are constructed in cells based on master plans stored in molecules known as deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) present in the nuclei of cells. DNA molecules consist of very long chains of units known as nucleotides joined to each other end-to-end. The sequence in which nucleotides are arranged act as a kind of code that tells a cell what proteins to make and how to make them.



[More to come ...]


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