In this issue, JCS is pleased to announce the launch of a new Article Series on Cell Biology and Disease, which aims to highlight how cell biology can shed light on mechanisms that drive the development of disease and open up new avenues for treatment of human disease. As argued in the Editorial by our Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kathleen Green, the time for such a series is ripe; the confluence of technical advances in biochemistry, engineering, genetics and imaging now provide unprecedented opportunities for defining how chemical signaling pathways interact with structural elements in the cell to control cell behaviour and influence pathogenesis. The series is kicked off with a poster article by Lane and Haines (p. 3923) on the role of keratins in disease that discusses the molecular basis underlying the many known keratinopathies, including the skin-blistering condition epidermolysis bullosa simplex. In the second inaugural article, Maria Antsiferova and Sabine Werner (p. 3929) discuss the ambivalent roles of activin. This factor is involved in normal wound healing, but as the authors argue, it can be involved in skin carcinogenesis and also enhances tumour formation in other organs. Future articles in the series will cover a diverse range of human diseases and pinpoint possible therapeutic interventions.