Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
University of California
Professor Denise Montell earned her B. A. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1983 and completed her Ph.D. in Neurosciences at Stanford University in 1988. She pursued postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution and was hired as an Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1992, rising to Full Professor in 2002. In 2006 she became the Founding Director of the Center for Cell Dynamics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 2013 she returned to her roots at the University of California, where she is now the Robert and Patricia Duggan Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at UCSB.
Professor Montell is an internationally recognized scientist who has garnered numerous awards for her research including the Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award, the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, the W. M. Keck Foundation Award, and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. She is best known for her work studying fundamental cellular behaviors such as cell movement and survival. Her lab established an in vivo model for the study of collective cell migration, demonstrated the role of the small GTPase Rac in cell motility in vivo using genetic and optogenetic approaches, and discovered three functions for E-cadherin in promoting collective, directional motility. More recently her lab has discovered that cells can unexpectedly recover from the brink of apoptotic cell death in a process they have named anastasis. The lab is currently studying the molecular mechanisms and the physiological significance of anastasis.
Professor Montell has served on national advisory boards including those of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, the American Cancer Society, and the American Society for Cell