Karl Matlin, PhD



Dr. Matlin is known for his seminal research on the biogenesis of epithelial cell polarity. His work defined the sorting pathways of membrane proteins in polarized epithelial cells and helped to identify the main sorting compartment in the cell, the Trans Golgi Network. He also discovered that targeting of membrane proteins to the apical surface of epithelial cells involves entry into a biochemical environment later identified with "lipid rafts." More recently, he and his laboratory studied the role of the laminin family of extracellular matrix proteins in injury repair and polarized cell migration in renal epithelial cells, demonstrating that directional migration of wounded cells is dependent on cooperation between two different laminin isoforms.

A major current focus is on the history of modern cell biology and the means by which cell biologists explain biological phenomena. He has published three articles on the history of the signal hypothesis, and is currently working on a book about the origins of molecular cell biology. He is also a co-editor of a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press on the past, present, and future of cell biology in the twenty-first century.

Dr. Matlin has been involved in curriculum and course development throughout his career. At Harvard Medical School and at the University of Chicago he developed novel integrated courses for first-year medical students in cell biology, biochemistry, and genetics that utilized a pedagogical strategy based around actual clinical cases. He is currently implementing this model as an educational consultant for the Wuhan University Medical College in China. In addition, Dr. Matlin is developing a novel "quarter abroad" series of courses for undergraduates entitled The Whale, to be held at the Marine Biological Laboratory, a new University of Chicago affiliate, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.