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Radhika Subramanian

Assistant Professor of Genetics (HMS)
Assistant Molecular Biologist (MGH)
Affiliate member of Cell Biology (HMS)

Radhika received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University. She then performed postdoctoral work at the Rockefeller University. She joined the faculty of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in October 2014.

The Subramanian Lab is interested in how micron-length scale structures that are critical for cellular signaling emerge from the collective activity of nanometer-sized proteins. We address this question in the context of microtubule organization for (1) cell division and (2) cilium-dependent Hedgehog signal transduction. We primarily use a reconstitution-based approach and ‘reconstruct’ sub-reactions of these cellular pathways in vitro from purified components. We aim to decipher the fundamental rules that govern the spatial-temporal organization of cellular machines and organelles, such as the spindle and the cilium, through this approach. We employ a wide range of experimental techniques, integrating information from cutting-edge single-molecule methods, high-resolution microscopy, structural tools, and biochemical and cellular read-outs. Through these studies, our goal is to understand the cellular mechanisms relevant to developmental disorders and human cancers.

Adrian Salic

Adrian Salic
Professor of Cell Biology

Adrian Salic, Ph.D. was appointed Assistant Professor of Cell Biology in 2005, after completing his postdoctoral research in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2000. His development of novel tools to detect DNA and RNA synthesis resulted in the creation of the commerically-available "Click-iT" EdU and EU kits that are now widely used by labs around the world.

The Salic lab studies biochemical and cellular mechanisms involved in signal transduction through the Hedgehog signaling pathway. We also develop and apply new chemical technologies to study the cell biology of lipids.

Wade Harper

Chair & Professor of Cell Biology
Bert and Natalie Vallee Professor of Molecular Pathology

Wade Harper, Ph.D., is the B and N Vallee Professor of Molecular Pathology, a Professor of Cell Biology, and the Chair of Cell Biology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology, prior to performing post-doctoral work in protein biochemistry of growth factors at Harvard Medical School. He joined the faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in 1988 and subsequently moved to the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (in 2003) and to the Department of Cell Biology in 2011.

The Harper Lab studies mechanisms underlying cellular homeostasis and signaling, with a focus on the ubiquitin system and the autophagy-lysosome system. The interest in the ubiquitin-proteasome system in the Harper Lab initially emerged through studies to understand how cell cycle regulators (cyclins and CDK inhibitors) are degraded to control cell cycle transitions, resulting in the discovery of cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases, and their roles in phosphorylation-dependent protein degradation. The Harper Lab currently uses quantitative proteomics, imaging, and biochemical approaches to elucidate underlying biochemical mechanisms controlling protein turnover, and applies these approaches to examine regulatory pathways relevant to various neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. A major focus currently is the PARKIN ubiquitin ligase, which controls turnover of damaged mitochondria via the autophagy pathway and is mutated in Parkinson’s Disease. The Harper Lab, together with the Gygi Lab at HMS, is also using proteomics to develop a large-scale human protein interaction network including the majority of proteins encoded by the human genome.

Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas

Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas
Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology
Professeur au Collège de France

Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology but continues to maintain a research group. He received his doctoral degree at Cambridge University, England and pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and Stanford University. He has been a faculty member at Harvard Medical School's Cell Biology department since 1998, and was Chief Scientific Officer at Biogen from 2012 until 2016.

Using molecular and genetic approaches, the Artavanis-Tsakonas lab is examining how various signals are integrated in undifferentiated cells in order to dictate cell fates and ultimately influence morphogenesis. Our main experimental system is Drosophila, but we are interested in exploiting this system as a tool to explore human biology and understand the underlying mechanisms of pathologies such as cancer.

David Van Vactor

Professor of Cell Biology
Director of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
Program Director/PI of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Dynamics T32
Faculty Director of Harvard Curriculum Fellows Program

David Van Vactor, Ph.D. is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a member of the Program in Neuroscience and the DFCI/Harvard Cancer Center. He is the Faculty Director of the HMS Curriculum Fellows program and Director/PI of Harvard’s Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Dynamics (MCD2) T32 PhD training program. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University in Japan.  Dr. Van Vactor received his B.A. in Behavioral Biology at the Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. from the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Van Vactor Lab is focused on understanding the development, maintenance and plasticity of neuromuscular connectivity in the model organism Drosophila. The coordinated morphogenesis of the synapse, fundamental unit of cell-cell communication in neural networks, requires many layers of regulatory mechanisms.  Genome-wide enhancer/suppressor screens to define the molecular machinery controlling neuromuscular junction development (NMJ) led us to multiple translational regulators, including a number of microRNA (miR) genes. Because the fly NMJ has served so well for genetic analysis of synapse development and function in many labs, we have a sophisticated knowledge of underling pathways and gene networks, thus making this a system particularly well suited to explore upstream regulatory logic. Using conditional genetic tools to manipulate the function of conserved miRs and their target genes, we have identified several novel regulatory pathways.  In addition, through a close and long-term collaboration with the Artavanis-Tsakonas Lab, we have worked to better understand developmental and age-dependent degeneration of the neuromuscular system using a variety of models for human disease in Drosophila.

John Flanagan

Professor of Cell Biology

John Flanagan, Ph.D., did his undergraduate training at the University of Oxford in biochemistry and his graduate training at the University of Cambridge, UK in molecular biology. His postdoctoral training was at Harvard Medical School in the Genetics department, focused on cell-cell signaling, after which he joined the Department of Cell Biology as a faculty member.

The Flanagan lab studies how cell-cell signaling molecules set up spatial pattern, particularly in the development and regeneration of connections in the nervous system.

Malcolm Whitman

M. Whitman
Professor of Developmental Biology (HSDM)
Affiliate member of Cell Biology

Malcolm Whitman, Ph.D., received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1985 while working on phosphatidylinositol kinases with Lew Cantley. After his postdoctoral studies with Doug Melton studying signaling in embryogenesis, also at Harvard, he joined the Cell Biology faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1992. In 2007, he became a Professor of Developmental Biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

The Whitman lab is interested in how signals are transduced into highly specific biological responses during embryogenesis, during physiological responses of an organism to stress or damage,  and  during the development of various disease pathologies.

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