Cell Biology Research Cluster

Cell Biology Research Cluster (CBRC) - Coordinator, Sandrine Pierre, PhD

Cell biology and molecular signaling are core components in the research of all diseases. The Cell Biology Research Cluster (CBRC) at Marshall consists of faculty that concentrate on the role of molecular signaling and control of gene function in a range of disease processes. Within the CBRC there are three primary research areas. The first area focuses on the regulation of cell function by Na/K ATPase, especially in epithelial cell biology. The epithelia is a barrier tissue that plays a major role in maintaining body and organ homeostasis. Changes in epithelial function are involved in a number of disease processes, including Crohn’s disease, hypertension and endometriosis. Faculty at Marshall investigate the role of Na/K ATPase in src mediated regulation of epithelial function. This interaction between Na/K ATPase and src regulates oxidative signaling (Liu, Xie, Shapiro), transporter expression and function (Arthur, Yan, Sundaram), and tight junction expression patterns (Larre). Other researchers investigate the role of Na/K ATPase in regulating the heart and muscle types (Pierre). The second area of interest for this Research Cluster is the regulation of gene expression patterns in disease. Two primary areas of interest are regulation by ligand gated transcription factors and also epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The ahrylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand gated transcription factor important for response to environmental toxins. Recent studies at Marshall have shown that this transcription factor is important for a number of cell responses to endogenous ligands, including growth factors (Salisbury). Subsequent studies indicate this may be important for regulating GI function (Arthur, Salisbury, Sundaram) and in the development of breast cancer (Salisbury). We also investigate how these types of processes can regulate lymphocyte differentiation (Sollars) and lung cancer (Dasgupta). Epigenetic regulation of gene activation is an area of considerable interest. Studies at Marshall focus on two primary epigenetic mechanisms: regulation of chromatin folding in addiction and cancer (Georgel) and micro-RNA in mitochondrial function (Koc), cardiovascular disease and endometriosis (Santanam). The third primary research area in this Research Cluster is the cellular and molecular control of tissue degeneration and regeneration. Research includes the potential of stem cells in regenerative medicine (Cai) as well as several researchers who focus specifically on liver dysfunction and regeneration (Sodhi, Sanabria). For each of our major research areas, it is our goal to interweave basic and clinical researchers to investigate cell biological issues with a truly translational approach.

Students are required to select a minimum of 5 credit hours of courses from the list below (including one course from List A and three credit hours from List B).

Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
List A 
BMR 651 Cancer Biology  4
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell 3
List B 
BMR 676 Cell Biology Research Cluster Journal Club  1
BMS 652 Cancer Biology Colloquium  1
BMR 631 Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Literature Review  1
ACB 640 Current Topics in Cellular Biology  1
MCB 622 Current Topics in Molecular Biology 1


Research Faculty

Research Interests 

Ruhul Amin, Ph.D.  Head and neck cancer, lung cancer and natural compounds
Subha Arthur, Ph.D.  Gastro-intestinal cell physiology and transport
Beverly Delidow, Ph.D. Cell Adhesion and signaling in cancer 
Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. Lung cancer and TRPC/TRPV channels
Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.  Gene Expression; epigenetics-cancer/metabolic dx
Emine Koc, Ph.D. Mitchondrial proteomics
Sandrine Pierre, Ph.D. Cell physiology and signaling 
Travis Salisbury, Ph.D. Signal regulated gene expression 
Vincent Sollars, Ph.D.  Heat shock proteins and cancer 
Nalini Santanam, Ph.D.  Metabolic signaling/abiogenesis; epigenetics
James Denvir, Ph.D. Bioinformatics
Yevgeniy Shakirov, Ph.D. Genetic determinants of cellular homeostasis
Uma Sundaram, MD Nurtition, inflammatory bowel disease