Department of Cell Biology and Physiology

Message From Our Chair

Kathleen Caron

Welcome to the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where our mission is to be nationally recognized for excellence in our discipline by Leading, Teaching and Caring

LeadingWe conduct cutting-edge, innovative research that advances the discipline of cell biology and physiology, with an emphasis on topics that contribute to the improvement of human health.  The UNC-CH Department of Cell Biology and Physiology is nationally-recognized and ranked #2 in the country for our level of NIH funding in 2016!  The Department comprises over 35 basic science laboratories dedicated to integrative research in areas related to neuroscience, cardiovascular development and disease, cell motility, cellular cytoskeleton and intracellular trafficking, gastrointestinal biology, cellular mechanisms of aging and cancer biology.  I encourage you to browse our website, which highlights each individual faculty research program.  Our faculty, trainees and staff benefit from robust partnerships with numerous Centers across campus including the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, McAllister Heart Institute, Marsico Lung Institute and Thurston Arthritis Research Center, to name a few. 

TeachingWe provide a rigorous and competitive educational experience for a diverse population of graduate and professional trainees which enables them to succeed in their future careers. The Department has a long tradition of successfully training the next generation of scientists.  Our newly-launched Curriculum in Cell Biology and Physiology offers an integrated training program for PhD students.  In addition, the Department is home to a multitude of undergraduate, medical and clinical fellow trainees who are seeking avenues for intellectually-engaging and creative research experiences. Research scientists who train in the discipline of cell biology and physiology will benefit from being able to synergize their training from several vantage points.  For example, the development of sophisticated genetic engineering tools enables us to test focused hypotheses on the multi-cellular diversity of organs and their cellular compositions.  Likewise, these same genetic techniques, coupled with the ability to image cell behavior at unprecedented resolution and the application of “-omics” approaches, permits a broader exploration into how cells sense and respond to their environments, either within an organ or in response to different pathophysiological conditions. In these ways, research trainees in our Department can capitalize on rapid technological advances and successfully apply their findings to inform the fundamental processes of normal and pathological physiology and cell biological behaviors.

CaringWe serve the people of North Carolina, the United States and the international community, by excelling in our research and educational missions thereby promoting the health and well-being of individuals and communities locally, nationally and internationally. The Department of Cell Biology and Physiology has a strong commitment to fostering an environment of inclusion, diversity and wellness within the workplace, which lays the foundation for collaborative partnerships and creative exploration.  We provide award-wining mentoring and professional development activities for individuals at all career stages.  Our faculty and trainees actively participate in local and national service, giving back to our communities.

It is an exciting time for the Department, with six new faculty hires, the launch of our state-of-the-art Hooker Imaging Core Facility and remarkable accolades and recognition of our distinguished faculty and trainees. I hope that you will enjoy exploring our research and educational programs, and encourage you to contact us if you would like to join and support our missions. 

We Are Proud to Announce..


The Hooker Imaging Core is NOW OPEN!

HIC logo



CBP Video

Mohanish Interview
Natasha Snyder
Collaboration between Zylka, Major, and Emanuele labs identifies link between autism gene and Wnt signaling
The labs of Mark Zylka, Ben Major, both in the Dept. of Cell Biology and Physiology, and Mike Emanuele identified a link between the E3 ubiquitin ligase Ube3a, the proteasome, and Wnt signaling. This collaboration harnessed the Zylka labs expertise at studying an autism-linked Ube3a mutation, the Major labs expertise with proteomics and Wnt signaling, and the Emanuele's lab expertise at identifying ubiquitinated substrates.
Spencer Smith promoted to Associate Professor
Congratulations to Spencer Smith on his successful promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure!!
Hailey Brighton successfully defends dissertation
CONGRATULATIONS to Hailey Brighton for successfully defending her dissertation entitled "Intravital imaging of melanoma in combination with molecular analysis reveals key changes in stromal ECM and tumor behavior in persistence against MEKi".
Vicki Bartsch receives Individual Predoctoral NRSA
Vicki Bartsch received an F31 individual predoctoral NRSA entitled "Diacylglycerol kinase mediates receptor signaling by regulating lipid levels in somatosensory neurons". The research project is an investigation of a class of enzymes called diacylglycerol kinases that are found at high levels in peripheral pain-sensing neurons. Through this research, she hopes to characterize how diacylglycerol kinases contribute to pain and itch signaling on the molecular and behavioral levels to serve the long-term goal of identifying new targets for chronic pain and itch treatments.