How can trillions of cells all with the same genetic information coordinate to form a complex organism? To address this question, Bissell uses the mammary gland as an experimental “organism”.
In early work, she found that cells isolated from mammary tissue and cultured on plastic rapidly lost all structural organization while those cultured in the presence of extracellular matrix molecules maintained their complex 3-dimensional structure; evidence for the importance of ECM in maintaining normal tissue structure. Bissell proceeded to demonstrate that ECM components are key in determining the development of a normal or malignant phenotype irrespective of genotype.
Mina Bissell completed her undergraduate degree in chemistry at Radcliffe College and her PhD in bacteriology at Harvard Medical School. She then moved to the University of California, Berkeley for post-doctoral studies. Bissell started her own lab at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and she has remained there for 30 years. Bissell is now a… Continue Reading