Welcome to the Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology (DMB) website.

Departmental History

The Department was established in 1965 as the Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer (DBC), under the chairmanship of Dr. Jerard Hurwitz. During his direction from 1965 –1984, the department’s first-rate research program was focused on nucleic acid biochemistry, protein synthesis, and protein sorting. When Dr. Hurwitz left Einstein for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in 1984, the department consisted of 5 faculty. Dr. E. Richard Stanley succeeded Dr. Hurwitz as DBC Chair in 1987, retaining 3 distinguished remaining faculty, with programs in protein synthesis and protein sorting. DBC was subsequently renamed Developmental and Molecular Biology (DMB) and in conjunction with the Department of Molecular Genetics, recruited new faculty working in development – recruitments that contributed to the establishment of strong research programs in Drosophila, Xenopus, zebrafish, and mice. Additional appointments were in the area of Cell Biology. Further recruiting was carried out in conjunction with the Cancer Center, the Liver Center, the Diabetes Center and the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics. Over the 23 years of Dr. Stanley’s tenure, DMB expanded and diversified considerably to include 12 primary and 10 secondary appointees, with all faculty members actively contributing to departmental life. Stanley stepped down as Chair in 2010 and DMB was for 8 years ably led by Interim Chair Dr. Liang Zhu, prior to his premature retirement due to ill-health in 2018. Stanley became Interim Chair in November 2018 and with the generous support of Dean Tomaselli, the department has been bolstered by the recruitment of new faculty and an influx of faculty from the former Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology.

Current Research and Activities of the Department

The scientific vision for the Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology (DMB) is to investigate the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms in development, aging, regeneration, and disease. DMB currently boasts 22 research groups using diverse model systems of hematologic, neurologic, cardiovascular, renal, virologic, metabolic, oncologic, and age-related diseases. These scientific areas and interactions are the foundation on which DMB stands and diversity is one of our major strengths. Stimulated by this diverse set of interests, the department has a rich history of long-lasting collaborations among the groups, which greatly enriches the academic microenvironment. In addition, through cross appointments in basic and clinical departments and memberships in centers and institutes, our faculty members participate in significant College-wide collaborations. Currently, there are 10 primary and 14 secondary tenure-track professors, 7 research professors, 2 Instructors, 5 Associates and 5 emeritus professors. The departmental activities include DMB weekly journal clubs, weekly work-in-progress seminars in which all graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty participate, and regular faculty “chalk talks”, where ongoing research programs and grant proposals are discussed. The department also hosts a vibrant bi-monthly external faculty seminar series to enhance scientific exposure and networking for our faculty and trainees. In addition, the whole department participates in a retreat held every 1.5 years at which on-going programs are presented in talks and posters.

The Passing of Dr. Liang Zhu

Professor Liang Zhu, M.D. Ph.D., much loved Interim Chair of our department from 2010 to 2018, passed away on June 7, 2022, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Sun Park and his children, Emily and Willis Zhu. A valued teacher, Dr. Zhu made seminal contributions to our understanding of how the cell cycle is regulated that are highly relevant to cancer treatment. To commemorate his legacy and his valuable contributions to science, a memorial fund has been setup in his name. The Liang Zhu Memorial Fund will be used to support basic scientific and medical research and training within the Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology as well as an annual Liang Zhu Memorial Lecture, presented by an outstanding invited speaker. To make contributions to this fund, please visit the following link:

The Liang Zhu Memorial Fund