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Research Areas


Apoptosis, or the process of programmed cell death by which individual cells are eliminated through highly controlled fragmentation into membrane-bound particles for phagocytosis by surrounding cells, is employed during normal physiological conditions to produce deliberate and orderly death of cells not destined to be present in the final tissue.  This rapid and efficient removal of cells, mediated by an intracellular cascade, circumvents those damaging consequences associated with cellular necrosis, allows for the recycling of the apoptotic cell’s organic components, and is characterized by the following cellular changes:  cell shrinkage resulting from dehydration, an increased permeability of the cellular membrane, both nuclear and cytoplasmic condensation, the endolytic cleavage of genomic material, and ultimately the formation of membrane-bound vesicles, or apoptotic bodies, containing intact ribosomes, mitochondria and nuclear material for absorption and removal by phagocytes.  The critical involvement of apoptosis within morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis, as well as the absence of normal apoptotic activity in cancer cells and some degenerative diseases, signify the importance of research concerning apoptosis and those cytokines involved in the activation or suppression of apoptotic events.

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