About Us

Our Department

The Department of Cell Biology was founded in the early 1970's by George E. Palade, who received the Nobel Prize in 1974 for fundamental discoveries that began to define the cell in mechanistic terms. In subsequent years, Palade's legacy has been built upon by an illustrious faculty based in the Department and also spread throughout the School of Medicine and the main University campus. 

Today, Cell Biology at Yale comprises a dynamic and intensely interactive group of 34 faculty members who span literally every major area of investigation central to the field. They are joined by 111 postdoctoral fellows and 73 graduate students. Many of our postdoctoral and student alumni have themselves gone one to successful careers in academia, biotech, and elsewhere. 

Our faculty includes three members of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Lasker Award for Medical Research. Welcome to the most central - and the most exciting - field in all of the biological and biomedical sciences. Our website will help to show you why.

Welcome to the most central - and the most exciting - field in all of the biological and biomedical sciences. Our website will help to show you why.

History of the Department

The Department of Cell Biology at Yale draws on a rich history rooted in the medical school's early forays into the fields of anatomy, microscopy and histology. In 1858, Rudolph Virchow articulated what became the accepted form of the cell theory, Omnis cellula e cellula ("every cell is derived from a [preexisting] cell.") He founded the medical discipline of cellular pathology, namely, that all diseases are basically disturbances of cells. It followed that if cells comprised the organism and could grow and divide and that diseases arose in cells, cells were extremely important subjects for research and teaching. From this foundation the department of Cell Biology has grown into one of the premiere research departments in the world.

In 2008, James Rothman was recruited and named the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences and the next Chairman of Cell Biology. His research involves study of the molecular mechanisms and regulation of vesicular traffic and membrane fusion in cells. Rothman received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2002 and the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience in 2010. In 2008, Rothman established the Center for High Throughput Cell Biology located at Yale's West Campus in West Haven. This center carries out genome-wide screening to establish patterns of gene function in cellular systems.