We are in an exciting era when cell biology, which studies the intricacies of cell behavior at the molecular level, has united with developmental biology, which seeks to understand the mystery of multicellular life. A fundamental outcome of this widened perspective has been that diverse developmental processes stem froma limited number of cell biological processes.

The experimental study of cell and organismal biology has also evolved. Approximately 40 years ago, the molecular biology revolution swept away most pre-existing experimental approaches in these disciplines. These were replaced by powerful genetic and biochemical approaches, coupled with advances in light-based microscopy that have enabled major advances to be made in our understanding of the function of individual classes of molecules.

Cell and developmental biology is currently undergoing another revolution. The sequenced genomes of many organisms, together with highly-parallel processing of DNA, RNA, and protein molecules and the availability of comparatively inexpensive computing power have created a field known as systems biology. Systems approaches enable the study of most or all classes of molecules in the body not as individual parts, but as components of an integrated and interacting network.

In 2004, this Center was launched under the auspices of the Weinberg College of Arts and Science. It has been my goal as director to provide the ability for Center labs to embark on new directions for research, and provide the organizational and material support to make those visions a reality. In addition, we provide support for collaborations between labs within CDSB, with their colleagues at Northwestern University, with their counterparts in the region, and around the world. Our mission is to make the fundamental new discoveries that expand knowledge and provide the basis for medical therapies in this new century.