The science of biology is in the midst of a revolution. Application of the methods and concepts of mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and information science are providing deep insight into classical biological problems such as the nature of heredity, the control of protein function, the regulation of gene expression in cells, the regulation of cellular activity, the mechanisms of growth and development, and the nature and interactions of nerve activity, brain function, and behavior. In addition, this confluence is nurturing new disciplines such as synthetic biology and systems biology.
Biochemistry, Structural, and Molecular Cell Biology offer a broad continuum of approaches to understand the fundamental basis for how protein and RNA molecules function and how their activities are regulated.
Biological engineering research at Caltech focuses on the application of engineering principles to the design, analysis construction, and manipulation of biological systems.
The broad fields of Developmental Biology and Genetics are highly interdisciplinary with a presence in all basic medical-science areas, as well as animal and plant biology.
We utilize microorganisms to explore basic biology and biochemistry problems, understand the physical principles governing biological systems, investigate mechanisms that underpin the robustness, stability, and design of complex networks, and explore the interactions among microbes in communities and between microbes and their environment.
Understanding the brain remains one of the great intellectual challenges for science, and it requires the integration of approaches from many disciplines. Caltech Neuroscience research spans a wide range of subjects: the molecular function of receptors; signaling organelles like the synapse; the structure and function of single neurons; the assembly and function of circuits of nerve cells; and the collective function of brain systems in controlling behavior, perception, memory, cognition, and emotion.
Systems Biology seeks to understand how the parts of biological systems are integrated to produce amazing machines, cells, organisms, and ecosystems that exist in our world. We thus seek to define general principles of biological systems. Part of understanding biological systems involves defining the relevant parts of a biological network and measuring how they change in a quantitative and comprehensive fashion as they carry out their functions; such network biology studies use the tools of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics.
Caltech has a long history of evolutionary and organismal biology, including Thomas Hunt Morgan's foundational contributions to population genetics and evolutionary theory, Seymour Benzer's groundbreaking work on the molecular biology of circadian rhythms and behavior in fruit flies, and pioneering neuroethological studies of birds by Marc Konishi. The strong tradition of evolutionary and organismal science at Caltech continues today in the laboratories of numerous faculty in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering.