Biological Sciences

Saturated fatty acids build lipids that form ‘frozen islands’ (blue) in cell membrane (green).

Columbia researchers developed a new microscopy technique that allows for the direct tracking of fatty acids after they’ve been absorbed into living cells. What the researchers found could have significant impact on both the understanding and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Biofilms are multicellular communities formed by densely-packed microbes that are often associated with persistent infections. Steep gradients of nutrients and oxygen form in these crowded structures. The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces molecules called phenazines that help it to cope with the oxygen-limited conditions within biofilms. Columbia researchers have uncovered new roles for proteins of the electron transport chain that implicate them in utilization of phenazines. Illustration by Nicoletta Barolini.

Columbia University biologists have revealed a mechanism by which bacterial cells in crowded, oxygen-deprived environments access oxygen for energy production, ensuring survival of the cell. The finding could explain how some bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P.

Joachim Frank

Photo by Jorg Meyer

Columbia University congratulates Joachim Frank, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and of biological sciences, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017.

When he received his A.B. from Harvard in 1969, Martin Chalfie wasn’t sure what he would do next. His worst grades had been in physics and chemistry, and a summer research project had failed, so science seemed out of reach.