Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology

 Departamento Biología Celular y Molecular

Our department conducts research focused on the cell as the structural and functional unit of life using different approaches such as biochemistry, biophysics, cell and molecular biology.

Department Head: Waldo Cerpa

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The Department of Cell and Molecular Biology conducts research focused on the cell as the structural and functional unit of life. The various approaches used in the department, covering such diverse disciplines as biochemistry, biophysics, cellular and molecular biology among others, have enabled us to contribute towards an understanding of the structure, function and regulation of animal cells, a knowledge that has clear implications in the area of Biomedicine. Our commitment to training new generations of professionals and scientists is reflected in a department that includes the Cellular and Molecular Biology major for the Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences, the oldest doctoral program taught by our School and one of the principal drivers of our work as a research center. Presently, our department consists of 14 full-time professors and more than 60 researchers in training at the doctoral or postdoctoral level and a similar number technicians and support staff


  • Alejandra Álvarez
  • María Estela Andrés
  • Enrique Brandan
  • Jorge Campusano
  • Pilar Carvallo
  • Waldo Cerpa
  • Verónica Eisner
  • Katia Gysling
  • Nibaldo Inestrosa
  • Juan Larraín
  • María Paz Marzolo
  • Hugo Olguín
  • Carlos Oliva
  • Marcela  Sjoberg
  • María Isabel Yuseff

Research Lines

The research interests currently under development cover different fields in the area of biomedicine including: chronic diseases, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, arteriosclerosis, cancer, drug addiction, muscular dystrophies, some hereditary diseases, as well as the aging process and the biology of stem cells and their use in different diseases.

Moreover, members of the Department also study basic topics such as: protein trafficking in polarized cells, developmental biology, human genetics, cell ultra-structure, transcription and regulation, cell metabolism, cell differentiation and its relationship to the extracellular matrix, cytogenetics, apoptosis, neuronal plasticity, chemical neurotransmission and the molecular basis of neurodegeneration.

Therefore, different models of study are used, ranging from primary cultures and cell lines to animal models including Drosophila melanogaster, Xenopus laevis and mammals such as rats.

The work done by each of the laboratories within our department draws heavily on intra-departmental interactions and collaborations, as well as partnership with other departments in our school, the university, and with other universities. This spirit of cooperation makes our Department a great place to do research at the highest level.


The Institute of Biological Sciences, now the School of Biological Sciences, was founded by decree of the Honorable Board of Governors of the University in  February 1970. In 1973, by decree of the Rector of the University, its structure was formally defined as based on departments, one being the Department of Cell Biology. A subsequent decree by the Rector on October 16, 1989 changed its name to the current Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology. Initially its internal organization included the laboratories of Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, Histology and Microbiology, and Immunology. Its current internal organization includes the FONDAP Center for Cellular Regulation and Pathology: Joaquín V. Luco, laboratories of Developmental Biology, Cell Differentiation and Pathology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Human Molecular Genetics, Molecular Nutrition, and units of Cell and Genetic Biochemistry, and Cell Structure and Function.