As a department in one of the nation’s premier public research universities, Cell & Developmental Biology scholars advance understanding of the basic building blocks of life. Cell & Developmental Biology research furthers knowledge in cell growth, differentiation, morphogenesis, embryogenesis, organogenesis, neurology, signal transduction, nervous system development, regeneration, developmental genetics, embryonic stem cells, and many more important areas. Within the department, leading edge resources like the microscopy imaging lab and the stem cell consortium have been developed to help foster research within the university and throughout the world. Our extraordinary research bolsters student education, lectures, clinical therapies, and touches countless lives beyond our campuses. Our students not only help contribute to the exceptional research within our community but go on to answer many critical questions throughout their career, wherever their science leads them. Join us; our donors are active partners in improving the welfare of humankind. Is there a field or topic of medicine that has affected you or the ones you love? We invite you to link your passions with ours.

Support for our Trainees/Training Programs: 

Bradley M. Patten Memorial Fund

This memorial fund contributes to the Patten graduate research scholarship to help support the second year of Ph.D. student training.  Click here to make a gift now

G. Carl Huber Postdoctoral Fellows Fund

The Huber Fund is intended to augment postdoctoral fellowships and traineeships to remove the burden from the fellows themselves, or from individual investigator research grants, to provide those missing funds for health care, travel to national meetings, or additional interim salary support.  Click here to make a gift now.

Sarah W. Newman Lecture

This lectureship provides an extraordinary opportunity for our graduate students to talk about science individually or in small groups with some of the most famous and accomplished scientists on the planet and is an unsurpassed educational opportunity for the participants. Click here to make a gift now.

Shelley J. Almburg Memorial Scholarship

The Shelley J. Almburg Memorial Scholarship is being established by Shelley’s family, in order to honor her memory after she passed away in June, 2015.

Shelley was an employee of the University of Michigan for 30 years.  She was associated with the department of Cell & Developmental Biology.  She worked as a Research Laboratory Specialist, and instrument analyst in the microscopy and image analysis laboratory.  She received her BA from Illinois State University, then furthered her education at the U of M, where she obtained her Masters of Art, and Masters of Fine Arts.

Shelley was very active and had a passion for many things.  She was talented photographer, skilled wood worker, and made beautiful, unique jewelry and furniture for family and friends.  She loved the outdoors, and hiked, biked, camped, golfed, and explored many different parts of the world.  She studied in Japan, and gazed at the Aurora Borealis from Bettles Alaska, during the arctic winter.  She was an animal lover, and avid gardener, sharing treats from her garden with everyone.

Her life was complicated with diabetes at the age of 15.  While this made life more difficult for her, she dealt with it all, head on, and would not let it interfere with what she wanted to do.  She devoted time and support to Camp Michitanki, and was a peer mentor in the U-M kidney transplant program.

Her family, touched by the many students, past and present, that shared stories of how Shelley had helped them with school wanted to keep Shelley’s spirit present. They sought to establish an award to find students that also exhibited her spirit and sense of service. She was supportive, kind, patient, and funny.  There was no one she couldn’t help. Click here to make a gift now.

Sun-Kee Kim Endowed Lectureship in Cell & Developmental Biology

The Sun-Kee Kim Endowed Lectureship in Cell & Developmental Biology seeks to honor Dr. Kim’s contributions to scholarship, imaging, and teaching, as well as to ensure that excellence in these endeavors exemplified by Dr. Kim continues.  Click here to make a gift now.

Developing Future Biologists

A student-led organization seeking to lower cultural barriers to graduate education by providing training to underrepresented minorities in the field of developmental biology and by increasing awareness of life science careers. More info can be found on the website  Click here to make a gift now.


The University of Michigan unites scientists from many fields who work together to study organism development, function and disease.  The goal of these studies is to design new and effective ways to treat disease and provide better understanding of ourselves as well as the world that surrounds us. In the course of this research, scientists use special stains to add color to the otherwise transparent tissues. Microscopes then allow detailed observation. The tiny biological structures revealed in these images are beautiful.  This fascinating combination of art and science is called BioArtography. The beautiful images are displayed at the Ann Arbor Art Fair BioArtography Booth each summer and throughout the year on the BioArtography website The BioArtography project proceeds help support the training of our next generation of researchers.   Click here to make a gift now.


Support for our Research: 

CDB Stem Cell Research Support

While stem cells offer the ability to probe still unknown steps in early development, model genetic disease, and may ultimately provide a source of cells to replace those damaged through aging, injury, disease, or birth defects, funding for much of this research is restricted by federal policy. The Stem Cell Research Fund will be used to support high-risk, groundbreaking studies in this emerging field. Click here to make a gift now.

Cellular GPS - getting there on time in a normally functioning cell

There’s a system to help sort proteins, sending them to the proper locations at the proper time. When this system doesn’t work, cells head to the wrong destinations too quickly or too slowly. Errors in this cellular GPS system can lead to neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Researchers are trying to better understand how this traffic system works and results in the proper movement of intracellular components, in the hopes that keeping traffic moving normally can prevent these types of diseases. In particular, they’re looking at abnormalities in transport along the microtubular train tracks, which provide the critical rails for transport to different destinations in the cell. They’re also looking at the impact of cells deprived of oxygen or essential nutrients; in this situation, cells respond by cannibalizing and reusing parts of themselves. CDB research is examining how the cell can switch the cannibalistic mode on and off. This has implications for treating heart attacks or stroke and could lead to more effective organ transplants.  Click here to make a gift now.

Decoding Cellular Conversations - how miscommunication leads to disease

Faculty are examining changes in cell-to-cell communication found in diseases like Down syndrome, depression, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are studying cellular crosstalk where cells talk to each other and respond to incoming signals. Certain signals are used consistently during embryonic development and continue as a person ages. Better understanding of this process and how it goes awry could lead to treatment of human development and adult diseases. Faculty are attempting to map connections between hundreds of different nerve cells. If one understands how connections form during development and are modified during learning, this can help to reestablish cell-to-cell contacts following traumatic brain injuries, seizures, or strokes.  Click here to make a gift now.

Neurons Can Fly

The Neurons Can Fly program aims to excite and motivate high school students to pursue higher education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. With the help of donations from the community, we can provide scholarships to metro Detroit area students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are underrepresented in the STEM fields. This week-long summer program, utilizing Drosophila (fruit fly) as the model organism, provides hands-on research experience in neural anatomy, immunohistology, genetics, electrophysiology, light microscopy, image processing, and neuronal tracing. Learn more about the program at Click here to make a gift now.

Regenerative Therapies - instructing stem cells to combat human disease

Advances in stem cell development hold promise for treating diseases ranging from Multiple Sclerosis to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and spinal cord repair following an injury. Stem cells are crucial to the healing process, so learning how to activate them could speed up that process. Stem cells also play a role in replacing or restoring damaged cells, as in spinal cord injuries. Stem cells provide an opportunity to easily study the impact of various therapies in a culture dish, since they can be induced to become any type of organ, so, drug experiments can take place in a variety of scenarios. To determine their impact, researchers are looking at how stem cells replace themselves and how stem cells end up giving rise to organs and tissues during development, and maintain these organs in adult life. The hope is that by better understanding how stem cells work, they can be used to improve stem cell transplantation so that it’s more successful and repair neurons. This field has already honed in on the way that bipolar cells behave differently from normal cells by taking adult cells from the skin, then turning them into embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers were able to see how the bipolar cells behaved differently than normal cells and the effect that lithium had in making them behave more like normal cells. Being able to try out different types of therapies on various stem cells is paving the way for individualized medicine.  Click here to make a gift now.

Reversing Neurodegeneration

Some of the most daunting diseases involve a loss of the most crucial bodily functions. Diseases of the brain and nervous system are among the most heart-wrenching. The patient must suffer, and loved ones must grapple with the fact that there’s no effective treatment. CDB scientists are trying to make inroads, exploring potential cures for ALS, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. To do this, they’re trying to better understand the function of the nervous system in the hopes of unlocking the mysteries of the brain. Faculty members are exploring the way that neurons communicate with each other and how that communication is impacted with disease. They’re studying the impacts of specific proteins that contribute to neurodegenerative disease.  Click here to make a gift now.

Watching Molecules at Work - building technologies for the future

This field focuses on how diseases can be caused by mutations in proteins and chemical imbalances changes within cells that lead to human maladies. CDB faculty are employing new technologies that track how molecules and cells work together in the body. They’re using microscopy and biosensors to map cell function. Faculty are looking at how changes in the way cells talk to each other can promote the growth of cancer. Miswiring of cells can cause epilepsy and schizophrenia. Scientists are using new technologies and sophisticated imaging methods to label individual brain cells and map their connections. Some faculty are using biosensors to monitor brain activity at the cellular level and understand how memories form proper wiring is crucial to allowing the brain to function well into a person’s old age. So, understanding this function is crucial.  Click here to make a gift now.

To learn more about ways of giving to the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology contact Melissa Lynch at [email protected] or (517) 231-7332 to discuss opportunities.