The California Institute of Technology has announced a $6 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to establish a center dedicated to understanding the intricacies of cellular signaling.
Building on Caltech's successes at the intersection of chemistry and biology, the new center will work to determine how complex molecular systems interact to create pathways that regulate the lives of cells and enable them to respond to their environments. The center will draw on the expertise of six faculty members from the school's division of chemistry and chemical engineering, whose research teams have been working to understand the various aspects of the cellular machinery that make signaling possible.
Many pathological states result from a malfunction of signaling within cellular pathways. For example, cystic fibrosis, the most common genetic disease among Caucasians, is typically caused by defects in the way a receptor is folded and moved through the cell, not by problems with the receptor itself. According to Jacqueline Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor at Caltech, what hopefully emerges from the research are new targets and approaches for therapeutic interventions.
"We are so grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for supporting this new center," said Barton. "Bringing together these groups and especially these students gives us a chance to look at the interplay of chemistry within the cell and between cells in a completely new way. What will emerge will definitely be more than the sum of the parts."