Recent dramatic progress in our understanding of the nature of life has revolutionized the science of biology. Applications of the methods, concepts, and approaches of modern mathematics, physics, chemistry, and information science are providing deep insight into basic biological problems such as the manner in which genes and viruses replicate themselves; the control 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. Qualified experimental and computational biologists will find opportunities for challenging work in basic research as well as in medicine and in biotechnology.
Because of the eminent position of Caltech in both the physical and biological sciences, students at the Institute have an unusual opportunity to be introduced to modern biology.
Areas of Research
Research (and graduate work leading to the Ph.D. degree) is chiefly in the following fields: biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, genomics and computational biology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology, structural biology, and systems biology. Biochemical methodology plays an important role in many of these fields, and there is extensive interaction with related programs in biochemistry within the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, including the biochemistry and molecular biophysics option.
The programs in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology are based upon approaches derived from biochemistry, biophysics, and genetics that offer new possibilities for expanded insight into long-standing problems. Neurobiology is a major area of emphasis within the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering. A comprehensive program of research and instruction in neurobiology has been formulated to span from molecular and cellular neurobiology to the study of animal and human behavior, including the computational modeling of neural processes.
A geobiology option is described in the geological and planetary sciences section.
The campus biological laboratories are housed in seven buildings: the William G. Kerckhoff Laboratories of the Biological Sciences, the Gordon A. Alles Laboratory for Molecular Biology, the Norman W. Church Laboratory for Chemical Biology, the Mabel and Arnold Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology, the Braun Laboratories in Memory of Carl F and Winifred H Braun, the Beckman Institute, and the Broad Center for the Biological Sciences. They contain classrooms and undergraduate laboratories, as well as research laboratories where both undergraduate and graduate students work in collaboration with faculty members. Special facilities include rooms for the culturing of mutant types of Drosophila, a monoclonal antibody production facility, a fluorescence-activated cell sorter facility, scanning and transmission electron microscopes, a confocal microscope facility, a magnetic resonance imaging center, a transgenic mouse facility, a high throughput sequencing and microarray analysis facility, and a protein expression and purification center.
About 50 miles from Pasadena, in Corona del Mar, is the William G. Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory. This laboratory provides facilities for research in cellular and molecular biology using marine animals, and for collecting and maintaining these animals.