Anatomy and Cell Biology


Faculty Research

In the latter part of the twentieth century, molecular biology created a scientific revolution with lasting impact upon the health sciences, particularly with regard to evidence-based medicine. Because extracellular cues, signaling pathways and resultant molecular changes are context-dependent, with divergent consequences associated with distinct tissue and cell types, it’s more important than ever to study molecular biology within a structural framework in order to translate molecular potential to improving population health. That is the goal of the research being done in this department.

Faculty research in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology is focused on three areas: neuroscience, renal biology and musculoskeletal biology.


Faculty investigators in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology who specialize in neuroscience research focus on brain circuitry, function and disorders, including stroke, ALS, epileptogenesis, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, peripheral neural temporomandibular disorder, anxiety, alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome to the level of translational treatment, neuroprotection and neural repair. These neuroscientists take a holistic approach to exploring the range of neurological topics—from DNA manipulation, receptor functioning and synaptic remodeling to brain circuitry visualization. Multidiscipline studies include developmental neuroscience, neural stem cells, neuroimmunology, neuropathology and neuroimaging. Collectively the neuroscience studies by faculty in this department share an interest in neuroanatomical topics and advanced processes, including epigenetics, optogenetics, glutamate uncaging, single-cell and patch-clamp recording, fMRI, brain imaging sound perception, and computational neuroscience.

Renal Biology

Renal Biology research programs center on cell and molecular biology, pathology, biological imaging, and biophysics. Investigators are working to understand the cell- and tissue-level mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of chronic renal disease, with emphasis on polycystic kidney disease and nephrolithiasis. Current projects focus on epigenetic factors in the progression of PKD, pathogenesis of Meckel Syndrome, pathogenesis of tubulointerstitial fibrosis, Matrix Bone Disorder in chronic kidney disease, proteomics and biomarkers of human vascular calcification, pathogenesis of kidney stone formation, and bioeffects and mechanisms of shock-wave action in shock-wave lithotripsy.

Musculoskeletal Biology

IU School of Medicine has a long tradition of outstanding research in musculoskeletal biology, as the school has been a leader in studies on osteoporosis and arthritis since the late 1960s. Initially, much of the work in this area was clinically-oriented and performed primarily by physician scientists, but the musculoskeletal biology faculty in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology began working closely with biomedical engineers in the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Research Center in the 1970s. The department continues to expand its musculoskeletal biology faculty and to collaborate with scientists at Eli Lilly and Company and other research partners who work to develop therapeutic agents for the treatment of osteoporosis. The musculoskeletal biology group in Anatomy and Cell Biology is the home of the Bone Journal Club and the Indiana Bone and Mineral Study Club, important forums for training junior scientists, for continuing the education of all researchers and physicians working in the area, and for fostering collaboration among scientists throughout Indiana who are working in the field of musculoskeletal biology.

Research Support Services

Histology Core

Histology Core

The Histology Core at IU School of Medicine provides histological services for basic science (non-clinical) research. Both mineralized (plastic embedded) and soft tissue (paraffin embedded) specimens can be prepared by core staff.

Micro Computed Tomography Core

Micro Computed Tomography Core

The Micro Computed Tomography Core is available to scan biological tissues–both skeletal and non-soft–at high resolution. Investigators can use self-service or full-service scanning. Rates are discounted for members of the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health, but the core’s equipment can be used by non-members, too.