Yale University announced today the appointment of James E. Rothman, one of the world's leading cell biologists, as chair of Yale School of Medicine's Department of Cell Biology. Additionally, Rothman will launch the Center for High-Throughput Cell Biology at Yale's West Campus, formerly the site of Bayer Pharmaceuticals.
Rothman will come to Yale from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he is now a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical Biology and director of the Columbia Genome Center. Under Rothman's leadership Yale's Department of Cell Biology will be significantly expanded, and will be co-located at the West Campus along with its present location at the main campus of the School of Medicine.
At the new Yale Center for High-Throughput Cell Biology, Rothman will lead multidisciplinary teams of scientists to develop tools and techniques to rapidly decipher the cellular functions of the 25,000 known protein-coding genes in the human genome, providing fresh insights into disease and identifying new molecular targets for therapy.
For more than two decades, Rothman has performed seminal research on membrane trafficking, the transport of molecules inside the cell in tiny spherical sacs known as vesicles, which fuse with membranes to deliver their molecular cargo to intracellular organelles or to the extracellular space. This latter process, known as exocytosis, is basic to life and occurs in organisms as diverse as yeast and humans; in humans, exocytosis underlies physiological functions ranging from the secretion of insulin to the regulation of the brain neurotransmitters responsible for movement, perception, memory and mood. Rothman discovered the molecular mechanisms and machinery responsible for these and related processes using a "cell-free" approach, in which he isolated intracellular components crucial to molecular transport in a laborato
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