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Research areas at CSHL


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is renowned for its excellent faculty. The Watson School has over 50 research faculty members that direct independent programs, providing a diverse range of research topics for students to explore. This international group of scientists offers a variety of perspectives on biological problems and works closely with students in courses and in the labs.

CSHL’s research faculty has contributed some of the most fundamental discoveries in molecular biology, genetics and neuroscience throughout the Laboratory’s history. The current faculty members lead cutting-edge laboratories in a broad range of topics. Their discoveries are consistently recognized for their impact at a very high level. Thomson Reuters ranked CSHL first among molecular and cellular biology research institutes for literature citations. CSHL faculty are awarded approximately $30 million in federal research funds and $60 million in public support each year.

Faculty research focuses on the following general areas:

Cancer & Molecular Biology

CSHL is one of the most influential centers for cancer research in the world. Landmark discoveries range from the development of new genomic technologies to breakthrough therapeutic strategies for a number of cancers. Fundamental research into basic molecular mechanisms of cell physiology have greatly enhanced the understanding of the underlying causes of cancer and other diseases and helped to identify new therapeutic targets.

Neuroscience

CSHL is leading research into how neuronal networks affect behavior and how their disruption contributes to cognitive disorders. Fundamental discoveries have focused on a systems-level understanding of memory, sensory processing, and decision-making, and pathologies including autism, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and depression.

Genetics & Genomics

CSHL’s approach to understanding complex diseases involves an intersection of multiple disciplines including human genetics, functional genomics, and bioinformatics. These varied approaches have led to the development of novel experimental techniques and analysis tools that have informed disease diagnosis and therapeutics, as well as the understanding of small RNA-based regulatory pathways.

Quantitative Biology

CSHL is encouraging the search for new solutions to important, unsolved problems in biology through quantitative approaches. A cross-disciplinary group of researchers with expertise in applied mathematics, computer science, theoretical physics and engineering are bringing their unique perspectives to understand human genetics, neural system architecture, and complex diseases.

Plant Biology

CSHL has long been contributing essential knowledge to understanding the genetic basis of plant development. Discoveries have made a direct impact on boosting crop yield and developing biofuels, with greater implications for food production, biodiversity and climate change.

Research at a Glance

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is world-renowned for the excellence of its faculty, an international group of scientists with many different perspectives on education and research in the biological sciences. This diversity has helped create our unique graduate program. By integrating two groups—46 research faculty, who direct independent research programs, with seven non-research faculty, who direct other programs at the Laboratory—the Watson School of Biological Sciences provides exceptional educational breadth for today’s graduate students.