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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 developments, 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

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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Science Highlights

Image of an adeno-associated virus. Cool Images: An Independence Day-Inspired Collection
In case you missed the fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend, we've put together this collection of firework-like images from basic research studies.

Wreath that represents the molecular structure of the Cas4 protein. New Views on What the Cell's Parts Can Do
Studying some of the most well-tread territory in science can turn up surprising new findings. Here are a few examples related to cells.

A ubiquitin protein pair illuminated by a sensor in two living, human cells.A Holiday-Themed Collection
Here are some images from our gallery that remind us of the winter holidays-and showcase important findings and innovations in biomedical research.

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Profiles: Meet a Scientist

De La CruzProtein Paradox: Enrique De La Cruz Aims to Understand Actin
Molecular biophysicist Enrique De La Cruz studies how a chain of molecules strong enough to support a cell can break so easily-and uses props to help others understand what he's learned.

Ron ValeSharing 'Behind the Scene' Stories About Scientific Discoveries
Motor protein scientist Ron Vale answers questions about a science education project that gives people around the world broader access to research seminars and conveys the excitement of the discovery process.

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

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Audio and Video

Protesosome. Credit: Andreas Martin, University of California, BerkeleyThe Proteasome: The Cell's Trash Processor in Action
Our cells are constantly removing and recycling molecular waste. This video shows one way cells process their trash.

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.

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Yeast cell showing two mature, or late endosomes that are filled with small vesicles.The Cell's Mailroom
This illustration of the inside of a yeast cell shows two endosomes, cellular containers that can carry cellular waste and other types of cargo.

Bright amorphous loops. Credit: Sue Jaspersen, Zulin Yu and Jay Unruh, Stowers Institute for Medical Research.Tracing Proteins in Action
A novel imaging technique offers never-before-seen glimpses of proteins that play a key role in cell duplication.

Computer-generated sketch of a DNA origami folded into a flower-and-bird structure. Credit: Hao Yan, Arizona State University. DNA Origami
This image shows the latest capability of a technique for folding DNA into complex arrangements, which might find future use in biomedical applications.

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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 August 3, 2016