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Creative Minds: Mapping Molecules in their Cellular Compartments

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Alice Ting

Alice Ting, Ph.D.
Credit: Vilcek Foundation

If you were trying to understand how a city functions, it would be useful to map not only its streets and buildings, but to identify all of the people in the city and pinpoint their locations at different times throughout the day. That’s pretty much what biologists would like to do for a cell: map an entire living cell in a way that identifies all of its parts and shows their precise locations at various points in time.

The challenge has been developing the tools and technologies needed to create such a map. Among those who have risen to that challenge is Alice Ting, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, and winner of a 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and a 2013 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award.