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Science Education: Cell Biology

A scanning electron microscope picture of a nerve ending. Credit:Tina Carvalho, University of Hawaii at Manoa.Understanding the structure and function of cells and their many parts, in health and in disease—that's cell biology. Studies in cell biology focus on questions like:

  • How do cells move, communicate, divide and ultimately die?
  • How are cellular components made and maintained?
  • What tools do we need to study cells up close and in real time?

Follow the links below to learn more about cell biology, including recent discoveries, and read profiles of researchers working in this field.


Cover image of Inside the CellInside the Cell
Explores the interior design of cells and vividly describes the processes that take place within cellular organelles and structures.

Cover image of The Structures of LifeThe Structures of Life
Reveals how understanding the shape of biological molecules involved in many cellular processes provides insight into health and disease.

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Classroom Poster

Seeing Cells PosterSeeing Cells Poster
Displays a variety of cell images and some basic facts about cells.

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Fact Sheet

Nerve ending. Credit: Tina CarvalhoCells
Trillions of cells make up our bodies, and researchers continue to learn more about their features and functions. Discover some recent advances.

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Research News

Cytonemes in the fruit fly tracheal system.Animal Cells 'Reach Out and Touch' to Communicate
Finding that typical cells in animals can talk to each other via long, thin extensions called cytonemes expands our understanding of how cells communicate.

DendritesDendrites Show Ability to Regenerate After Injury
Discovering that dendrites, a part of nerve cells, can regenerate might one day aid the development of new approaches to heal injured nerve cells.

Mitochondria. Credit: Judith Stoffer.Abnormal Mitochondria Might Cause Resistance to Radiation Therapy
A mutant version of a gene leads to misshapen mitochondria that make cells resistant to radiation-induced death.

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Bacterial proteins. Credit: Video segment courtesy of the American Chemistry CouncilBleach vs. Bacteria
Details about how bleach kills—and how bacteria can survive the attack—may lead to the development of new drugs.

Fat cellsCapitalizing on Cellular Conversations
Living things are constantly communicating using chemical signals that course through their systems—and that affect health and disease.

Blood vessels in a mouse retina Visualizing Vessels
High-tech visualization tools and methods captured this image of retinal blood vessels, which are used to diagnose glaucoma and diabetic eye disease.

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Profiles: Meet a Scientist

Marc ZimmerGreen Light
Chemist Marc Zimmer studies protein molecules that make animals glow in the dark—and help scientists study their cells.

Peggy GoodellMastering Stem Cells
Researcher Peggy Goodell pursues the properties and uses of stem cells.

Andres GarciaThe Forces That Bind
Engineer Andrés García studies cell stickiness to create new biomaterials that can heal bones and other body tissues.

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Audio and Video

Credit: Huey Huang, Rice University. Cool Video: How Bee Venom Toxin Kills Cells
A new video that shows how a toxin destroys an animal or bacterial cell might help scientists design new drugs to combat bacterial infections.

CiliaCool Video: How Cilia Do the Wave
Thin, hairlike biological structures called cilia are tiny but mighty. Working together, cilia play essential roles in human health, such as sweeping debris from the lungs.

Protein structureCool Video: Beating Bleeding
Watch proteins in action as they signal blood to clot after an injury.

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Neurons activated with red or blue light. Credit: Yasunobu Murata/McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.Cool Image: Lighting up Brain Cells
Newly discovered, light-sensitive proteins from algae will enable scientists to manipulate two groups of neurons simultaneously with different colors of light and study how different sets of cells in the brain interact.

V. choleraeCool Image: Denying Microbial Moochers
This image of several cholera-causing V. cholerae bacterial communities sheds light on how the communities operate.

Viral RNA (red) in an RSV-infected cell. Credit: Eric Alonas and Philip Santangelo, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.Cool Image: Visualizing Viral Activity
Multiply-labeled tetravalent RNA imaging probes (MTRIPS) reveal the entry, assembly and replication of the respiratory syncytial virus inside a living cell.

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Quizzes and Puzzles

Cells Professor Cartoon Test Your Science IQ! Game: Cells
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Inside the Cell puzzle Inside the Cell Crossword Puzzle | Accessible Version

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This page last reviewed on April 2, 2014