About our Research

A universal property of living cells is their ability to maintain an intracellular composition that is outright different from the extracellular environment. This unique intracellular composition is made possible by the cell membrane that separates the cytoplasm from the extracellular space and by transport proteins that establish transmembrane gradients by actively moving substrates (ions, amino acids, metabolites) across the membrane. The energy that is stored in transmembrane ion concentration gradients is then harnessed to perform many cellular functions including initiation of muscle contraction and the heartbeat, generation of action potentials, and secretion of fluids. Our lab is interested in the structure and physiology of ion channel proteins in the membrane that perform these functions. In particular, we are interested in understanding how ions (and other substrates) move through channels, how various cellular signals cause ion channels open and close, how the lipid membrane interacts with and regulates ion channels, and how downstream physiological events are triggered or modulated by ion channel function. We utilize a wide range of approaches including electrophysiology, live-cell and super-resolution imaging, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and pharmacology to elucidate how ion channels work and how they become broken in disease.  Read More>>


H. Criss Hartzell, PhD
Dept. of Cell Biology
615 Michael St.
535 Whitehead Bldg.
Emory University
School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA 30322