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(Oil and light art: Steve Pavlovsky / Liquid Light Lab) For more than a century, biologists ignored a fundamental question about how cells do the business of sorting molecules in a crowd. Then came Cliff Brangwynne, whose surprising work showed that certain proteins separate into globules much like droplets of vinegar suspended in oil. The finding, which revived previously dismissed ideas about biophysical mechanics, launched a new paradigm in cell biology: liquid-liquid phase separation
In a paper published June 26, 2017 in Nature Chemistry,  Clifford P. Brangwynne, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and his co-workers have described the formation of liquid droplets forming inside living cells. Co-authors of the article include postdoctoral associate Ming-Tzo Wei, former CBE graduate student Marina Feric *16, Rohit Pappu, a biomedical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis, and also Rodney Priestley, Associate professor o
Both Clifford P. Brangwynne and Mark P. Brynildsen, each currently Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have been promoted to Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering with continuing tenure, effective July 1, 2017, as recently approved by the Trustees of Princeton University.  Congratulations, Cliff and Mark!
In a paper recently published February 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a Princeton team demonstrated that roundworms—specifically, the laboratory workhorse, Caenorhabditis elegans—carry with them bacteria—Escherichia coli—as they tunnels through the soil in which the worms and bacteria both naturally dwell. Along the way, the worms “drop” bacteria like breadcrumbs or seeds—seeds which subsequently grow into thriving colon
In a paper recently published in the highly-regarded research journal Cell, a Princeton team demonstrated the use of a new method, termed “OptoDroplet”, to induce both reversible and irreversible protein phase transitions within cells.  The research team, led by Clifford Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE), also included Jared Toettcher, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Associated Faculty in CBE.  OptoDroplet works by fus
Celeste M. Nelson, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Clifford P. Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have been named as two of the 84 inaugural Faculty Scholars in a new joint program established by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Aimed at supporting exceptional individuals in the biomedical research arena, Faculty Scholars have between four and ten years of facu
Clifford Brangwynne, Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering, is the recipient of a 2015 ASCB Gibco Emerging Leader Prize from the American Society for Cell Biology. Cliff was one of three awardees this year out of 169 applicants. The $5,000 cash award is given for "outstanding scientific accomplishments with a strong publication track record." The prize will be formally presented at the 2015 ASCB Annual Meeting in San Diego, Dec. 12-16, 2015.&nbs
The size of a typical eukaryotic cell is usually of the order of ~10 μm. However, some cell types grow to very large sizes, up to 1 mm. Graduate student Marina Feric in the Brangwynne lab has used microrheology and quantitative imaging to show that large nuclei contain an elastic F-actin scaffold that mechanically stabilizes them against gravitational forces.
Clifford Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, will receive the Howard B. Wentz, Jr. Junior Faculty Award from the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at a SEAS-wide faculty meeting on May 28.  The award of $40,000 in unrestricted research funds is “intended to recognize and assist promising junior faculty members”.  Brangwynne’s research focuses on intracellular RNA/protein droplets:  their assembly, biological func
Rodney D. Priestley and Clifford P. Brangwynne, both Assistant Professors of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have been named 2014 Sloan Fellows:  Priestley in the field of Chemistry, Brangwynne in Computational & Evolutionary Molecular Biology.  The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation established the Fellowships in 1955 to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded “in recognition of d
CBE doctoral student Marina Feric, and her advisor, CBE Assistant Professor Clifford P. Brangwynne, have discovered that gravity can play an important role in cells.  Feric and Brangwynne set out to understand how liquid-like RNA/protein (RNP) organelles are stabilized within the nucleus of large frog cells.  By using small probe particles to make micro-rheological measurements in the cell nucleus, they found that an actin biopolymer scaffold constrains the motion of RNP droplets. Unex
Clifford Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Brangwynne’s project, entitled “Non-Equilibrium RNA/Protein Liquids and Intracellular Phase Transitions”, will focus on elucidating two important aspects of RNA/protein liquids: 1) their assembly from soluble components, and 2) their material properties, which strongly impact their b
Clifford P. Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has just been named a Director’s New Innovator by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in a press release issued today.  The New Innovator award initiative, established in 2007, is designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas who are within 10 years of their terminal degree, and is accompanied by a $1.5M research award.  The NIH Di
Clifford P. Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was named a Searle Scholar for 2012 on April 13.  Fifteen recently-appointed assistant professors in the chemical and biological sciences nationwide were selected for this honor from a pool of 186 researchers nominated by 125 institutions.  The Searle Scholars Program will support Cliff's research on nucleolar function in cell growth control through a $300,000 grant over the next three years.  
Clifford P. Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has received a three-year Program Research Grant from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), on “RNA Helicases in RNA/Protein Body Assembly and Function:  A Multi-scale Approach”.  The grant will support studies of sub-cellular compartments which consist of assemblies of RNA and proteins, and how they carry out their biological functions.  Brangwynne’s project team includes Ch
The November 25 issue of Science magazine contains a five-segment news focus section on “Mysteries of the Cell”, with each segment devoted to a particular unsolved mystery.  One of the segments, entitled “How Does the Cell Position Its Proteins?”, contains excerpts from an interview with Clifford Brangwynne, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, discussing his recent work:  “this cytoplasmic fluid is actually highly structured, which
Mark P. Brynildsen and Clifford P. Brangwynne will join the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering as Assistant Professors during the coming academic year. Each will expand and strengthen the department’s research portfolio in biological engineering. Brynildsen, who will start in September 2010 following a postdoctoral appointment in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, specializes in host-pathogen interactions, bacterial persistence, and biofilms. Brangwynne, who will