Karl Matlin

History of Cell and Molecular Biology, Epithelial Cell Biology

(773) 834-2242

Karl Matlin is a cell biologist whose laboratory work focused on the mechanisms by which epithelial cells spatially polarize to form normal epithelia or to directionally migrate during wound repair. He currently conducts research on the history of cell and molecular biology, particularly in the post-World War II period. He is particularly interested in how social interactions and the practice of science impact discovery, and on explanatory strategies used by cell and molecular biologists, as well as how these strategies are manifested in the age of genomics, big data, and systems biology. Current projects include a book on the signal hypothesis and its impact on biology, and an edited volume titled Visions of Cell Biology to be published by the University of Chicago Press. Professor Matlin co-directs the annual Seminar in the History of Biology held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and participates in the MBL History Project. In 2016 he co-curated an exhibit at the Crerar Library on the shared history of the University of Chicago and the MBL.

In Spring 2013 he initiated a new undergraduate and graduate course entitled “A History of Cell and Molecular Biology”.

Publications include:

  • Matlin, K.S. and van Meer, G. Commentaren: Nobelprijs Fysiologie of Geneeskunde 1999 voor de ontedekking dat eiwitten intrinsieke signalen hebben voor transport en lokalisatie binnen de cel. Ned. Tijdschr Geneeskd 1999; 143:2604-2607. (Commentary on the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in Dutch).
  • Matlin, K.S. When cell biology grew up. Traffic 2000; 1:291-292.
  • Matlin, K.S. The strange case of the signal recognition particle. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 2002;3:538-532.
  • Matlin, K.S. Spatial expression of the genome: the signal hypothesis at forty. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 2011;12:333-340.
  • Matlin, K.S. History of the signal hypothesis. 2013. In: eLS. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. Chichester.
  • Matlin, K.S. The Heuristic of Form: Mitochondrial Morphology and the Explanation of Oxidative Phosphorylation. J. Hist. Biol. 2016: 49 (1):37-94.
  • Matlin, K.S. and Caplan, M.J. The secretory pathway at 50: A golden anniversary for some momentous grains of silver. Mol. Biol. Cell 2017;28:229-232.
  • Matlin, K.S. Pictures and Parts. In: Visions of Cell Biology, Matlin, K.S., Maienschein, J., Laubichler, M., eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. In press (anticipated 2017).
  • Matlin, K.S. and Maninnen, A. Laminins in Epithelial Polarization. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. In press (anticipated 2017).