Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences

Email: egarner@fas.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-8959

Mail: NW 445.20
Northwest Building
52 Oxford St
Cambridge, MA  02138

Garner Lab Website
Members of the Garner Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 68. Cell Biology Through the Microscope
Catalog Number: 11556  View Course Website
Term: Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructors: Ethan Garner, Jeff Lichtman
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: MCB 68 explores three fundamental fields of eukaryotic cell biology: chromosome segregation, cell motility, and neuroscience. Each topic is approached from a historic and technical perspective. Students will discover these systems as the scientific field did, learning how each successive advance in microscopy revealed new biological details. Students will come away with a theoretical and hands-on understanding of microscopy as well as a grasp of the biological findings each technology revealed.
Prerequisite(s): LS1a or LPSA is required. An additional introductory course in biology (e.g. MCB 52 or MCB 60, SCRB 10, MCB 80) is recommended but not required.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 1:00 - 2:30, and a one hour lab section per week
MCB 292. Cellular Biology, Neurobiology and Developmental Biology
Catalog Number: 4288  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2014-2015.
Instructors: Ethan Garner, Venkatesh Murthy, Alexander Schier
Course Level: Primarily for Graduates
Description: The biology of the individual cell lies at the heart of multi-cellular phenomena such as development and neural function. This course will emphasize critical evaluation of the primary literature, experimental design and scientific writing.
Note: Required for first year graduate students in the Molecules, Cells and Organisms (MCO) Training Program.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 10-11:30
MCB 310. Optical Approaches to Understanding Prokaryotic Cellular Organization
Catalog Number: 17979  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Ethan Garner
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
BIOPHYS 350. Organization, Structure and Dynamics of Prokaryotic Cytoplasm
Catalog Number: 25902  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Ethan Garner
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
(View all MCB Courses)


The Garner lab studies the organization, structure, and dynamics of the prokaryotic cytoplasm. Generally, we are interested in elucidating how small collections of genes are able to impart long range order to cells. Currently, we are using a combination of sub-diffraction imaging, particle tracking, and biochemistry to dissect the mechanistic process of how cells grow and divide. We can observe single molecules of the cell wall synthesis machinery move directionally around the cell circumference, and we are working to understand how these motions create the emergent shape of cells and how they are relate to the control of cell growth.


  1. Garner EC, Bernard R, Wang W, Zhuang X, Rudner DZ, Mitchison T. Coupled, Circumferential Motions of the Cell Wall Synthesis Machinery and MreB Filaments in B. subtilis. Science, 2011 Jul 8;333(6039) p. 222-5. PMCID: PMC3235694
  2. Garner, E.C., C.S. Campbell, D.G, Wiebel, and R.D. Mullins, Reconstitution of DNA segregation driven by assembly of a prokaryotic actin homolog. Science, 2007 315(5816): p. 1270-4. PMCID: PMC2851738
  3. Garner, E.C., C.S. Campbell, and R.D. Mullins, Dynamic instability in a DNA-segregating prokaryotic actin homolog. Science, 2004. 306(5698): p. 1021-5.
  4. Garner EC, MicrobeTracker: quantitative image analysis designed for the smallest organisms. Mol Microbiol. 2011 May;80(3) p. 577-9.
  5. Ptacin JL, Lee SF, Garner EC, Toro E, Eckart M, Comolli LR, Moerner WE, and Shapiro L, A spindle-like apparatus guides bacterial chromosome segregation. Nat Cell Biol. 2010; 12 (8): 791-8. PMCID: PMC3205914
  6. Orlova A, Garner EC, Galkin VE, Heuser J, Mullins RD, and Egelman EH. The structure of bacterial ParM filaments. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2007 10: p. 921-6.
  7. Choi CL, Claridge SA, Garner EC, Alivisatos AP, Mullins RD. Protein-nanocrystal conjugates support a single filament polymerization model in R1 plasmid segregation. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2008 17; 283(42): 28081–28086. PMCID: PMC2568930
  8. Garner EC, GE Prize essay. Understanding a minimal DNA-segregating machine. Science. 2008 322 (5907) p. 1486-7.
  9. Garner, E., P. Romero, A.K. Dunker, C. Brown, and Z. Obradovic, Predicting Binding Regions within Disordered Proteins. Genome Inform Ser Workshop Genome Inform, 1999. 10: p. 41-50.
  10. Garner, E., P. Cannon, P. Romero, Z. Obradovic, and A.K. Dunker, Predicting Disordered Regions from Amino Acid Sequence: Common Themes Despite Differing Structural Characterization. Genome Inform Ser Workshop Genome Inform, 1998. 9: p. 201-213.
  11. Romero, P., Z. Obradovic, X. Li, E.C. Garner, C.J. Brown, and A.K. Dunker, Sequence complexity of disordered protein. Proteins, 2001. 42(1): p. 38-48.
  12. Williams, R.M., Z. Obradovi, V. Mathura, W. Braun, E.C. Garner, J. Young, S. Takayama, C.J. Brown, and A.K. Dunker, The protein non-folding problem: amino acid determinants of intrinsic order and disorder. Pac Symp Biocomput, 2001: p. 89-100.
  13. Li, X., Z. Obradovic, C.J. Brown, E.C. Garner, and A.K. Dunker, Comparing predictors of disordered protein. Genome Inform Ser Workshop Genome Inform, 2000. 11: p. 172-84.
  14. Dunker, A.K., Z. Obradovic, P. Romero, E.C. Garner, and C.J. Brown, Intrinsic protein disorder in complete genomes. Genome Inform Ser Workshop Genome Inform, 2000. 11: p. 161-71.
  15. Romero, P., Z. Obradovic, C.R. Kissinger, J.E. Villafranca, E. Garner, S. Guilliot, and A.K. Dunker, Thousands of proteins likely to have long disordered regions. Pac Symp Biocomput, 1998: p. 437-48.  

updated: 12/06/2016