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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.



Booklets

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

A dividing cell. Credit: Jean Cook and Ted Salmon Labs, University of North Carolina School of MedicineStudying Cells
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

Assorted cheeses. Credit: Elia Ben-Ari. Say Cheese
Recreating cheese rind microbial communities in the lab could answer fundamental questions about the ecology of other microbial communities, including infection-causing biofilms.

Gut bacteria. Credit: S. Melanie Lee, Caltech; Zbigniew Mikulski and Klaus Ley, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.Restoring the Function of an Immune Receptor Involved in Crohn's Disease
A protective protein restores the function of an immune receptor associated with Crohn's and other inflammatory diseases.

Warmer colors show greater Rac1 activity. Credit: Yasmin Moshfegh, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.Revealing a Key Player in Cancer Metastasis
A newly designed fluorescent biosensor shows where Rac1, a molecule involved in cancer metastasis, is active in a cell.

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Articles

skin cell The Fireworks Inside Us All
Here are just a few glimpses into cells captured by scientists in the course of their NIH-funded research.

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.

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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

A microtubule, part of the cell's skeleton, builds and deconstructs. Credit: Eva Nogales lab, University of California, Berkeley.Cool Video: How a Microtubule Builds and Deconstructs
In a process critical for many biological activities, tubulin proteins snap into place to build a microtubule, part of the cell's skeleton, which then falls to pieces from its top end.

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.

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Images

A healthy cell that has ingested dying cells. Credit: Toru Komatsu/University of Tokyo.Cool Image: Training Cells to Devour Dying Neighbors
A healthy cell has engulfed a number of dying cells just as a predator might ingest wounded or dying prey.

Mouse optic nerve and retina. Credit: Keunyoung Kim, Thomas Deerinck and Mark Ellisman, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, UC San Diego.Cool Image: Outsourcing Cellular Housekeeping
Neurons in the mouse optic nerve pass some of their worn out mitochondria to neighboring brain cells for recycling.

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.

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Quizzes and Puzzles

Cells Professor Cartoon Test Your Science IQ! Game: Cells
HTML Versions: High School Level | College Level | Graduate Level
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Inside the Cell puzzle Inside the Cell Crossword Puzzle | Accessible Version

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This page last reviewed on September 2, 2014