Research areas in Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology
Research in cell, molecular and structural biology at Karolinska Institutet takes place both at the level of basic science, in order to improve our knowledge of fundamental biological processes, and also within projects concerned with certain disease areas, for example, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegeneration like dementia and Parkinsons disease.
The aim of research into cell biology is to acquire a better understanding of the biological processes that take place in the cells of the body, such as growth, energy regulation and gene expression, and what it is that goes wrong when a disease develops.
"Omics" Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
Genomics is concerned with study of the genetic material, or genome, at the molecular level. This includes the analysis of DNA sequences, and how gene expression is regulated in different cell types and under different conditions. A deeper understanding of how our genes function is essential in order to understand how cells and biological processes work, and what goes wrong when disease arises.
Proteomics involves research into the proteome, i.e., all the proteins that are found in cells and tissues of the body and their expression, modification and function. Proteins are synthesised using the genetic code as a template. They are the most important building blocks of the body and are the regulators of metabolism and signalling systems at both the cellular level and in the body as a whole.
Metabolism is regulated, both in and between the body's cells and organs, by a complex set of interactions and equilibria between proteins and other substances. Metabolomics is the research area that aims to integrate our knowledge of proteins with that of their functions and processes in the organism.
An understanding of the biological functions of molecules, in particular those of proteins, requires knowledge of their exact structure in three dimensions. Proteins are composed of long chains of amino acids that fold up in specific ways so that certain parts are exposed on the surface of the protein and can express biological activity in their interaction with neighbouring molecules, cells or infectious agents.