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Cell biology

Investigating the magic of ‘the biological atom’


As cell biologists, we are concerned with the fundamental unit of life, that fascinating entity described by George Henry Lewes over a century ago as ‘the true biological atom’. All biology begins with the cell.


All living creatures are made up of cells whose characters and roles are as highly differentiated and specialized as those of humans. Gut cells are ‘the big eaters’, neurons are the ‘thinkers and problem solvers’, germ cells are the ‘history teachers’, and so forth. How, and how well these different cells work collectively determines an organism’s survival. It is the difference between life and death.


At iCeMS we take a cross-disciplinary approach as we strive to understand the life of cells. Working with materials scientists and physicists, we probe how stem cells give rise to specialized cells with unique shape and function, and how germ cells magically transmit our core nature, the genome, to the next generation.