Illustration: A. Canamucio

Cell biology has become the third overlapping core discipline of modern biology, along with biochemistry and genetics. Progress over the century--since E.B. Wilson's classic book1 elegantly framed many of the questions of cell biology--has relied on advances in technology and yielded fascinating insights into the ways that cells work. We now have an unprecedented understanding of the structure, organization, and functions of cells.

As the number of completed genome sequences increases, we are on the verge of having detailed inventories of the genes and proteins from which cells are built, along with insights into the evolution of their complexity. Pending advances in stem cell research, cell and tissue engineering, gene therapy, genetic engineering, and cloning of plants and animals build on our understanding of cell biology and pose crucial ethical and public policy issues. Cell biology will affect our lives as profoundly in this century as...

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