Daniel J. Dickinson

  • Assistant Professor
  • Molecular Biosciences
Profile image of Daniel J. Dickinson


Dickinson received his B.S. in biochemistry from Iowa State University in 2005, then spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Switzerland before earning a Ph.D. at Stanford in 2011. Prior to joining UT, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Bob Goldstein's lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Cell polarity is a basic property of eukaryotic cells, in which two opposite sides of the cell acquire different properties. Cells must polarize properly in order to form tissues during embryonic development, and polarity is often disrupted in disease. The Dickinson lab operates at the interface between biochemistry and cell biology, with the goal of understanding how cells can polarize in response to signals from their environment. Some specific questions that interest us include:

  • At a basic level, how can proteins that are 10 nm in size organize spatial patterns in cells that are 10 ┬Ám in size? Dickinson studies the biochemical mechanisms and interactions that give rise to spatial organization.
  • How do proteins move within cells to establish polarity? Specifically, what forces are present that allow polarity proteins to overcome diffusion and become enriched asymmetrically within the cell?
  • How can a common set of polarity signaling proteins generate polarity in a variety of different cell types during development?
  • How can a conserved signaling machine, such as the cell polarity program, evolve to take on new functions?

The lab pursues these questions using novel single-cell and single-molecule biochemistry methods, along with cutting edge live-cell and super-resolution imaging techniques, genome editing, and computational modeling. We use C. elegans embryos and mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) as our primary model systems.  In addition to answering biological questions, a portion of the lab focuses on developing single molecule technologies to enable the study of cellular signal transduction in vivo. 

Research Areas

  • Biochemistry

Fields of Interest

  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Biochemistry


  • Postdoctoral Training, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Ph.D., Stanford University
  • B.S. in Biochemistry, Iowa State University