Developmental Biology

  • Molecular Embryology

    Research in this area focuses on the molecular, genetic and cellular mechanisms that govern cell behavior and pattern formation during development.

    Bruce Aronow, PhD, uses genomic and computational approaches to investigate gene regulation, biological pathways, and developmental and disease mechanisms. The goals of this work are to better understand health and disease processes, the impact of individual human gene mutations and polymorphisms, and to study the structural, functional, and evolutionary basis of biological systems.

    Nadean Brown, PhD, investigates mechanisms of cell fate specification in the mouse retina and lens. Projects focus on the function and regulation of transcription factor and Notch signaling during progenitor cell proliferation, cell cycle exit and differentiation.

    Kenneth Campbell, PhD, studies the molecular genetic control of mouse forebrain development with a particular focus on the generation of neuronal diversity in the ventral telencephalon.

    Vaughn Cleghon, PhD, is interested in understanding the role of protein kinases in development and disease. His lab uses molecular biology, tissue culture, Drosophila genetics and bioinformatics to better understand fundamental mechanisms involved in the regulation of protein kinase activity. [Visit the Cleghon lab site.]

    Brian Gebelein, PhD, studies how the Hox genes specify distinct cell fates within the nervous system using the fruit fly as a model organism. His long-term goal is to use a combination of genetic and biochemical approaches to understand how Hox factors interact with neuronal transcription factors to regulate downstream target genes that pattern the nervous system and ultimately control cellular function and behavior. [Visit the Gebelein lab site.]

    Janet Heasman, PhD, studies the molecular mechanism of axis formation in Xenopus.

    Rashmi Hegde, PhD, studies molecular mechanisms involved in embryonic organ development and how the aberrant functioning of these processes can lead to developmental disorders as well as adult disease states such as cancer. This knowledge is then utilized in the rational design of therapeutic strategies. We use a variety of experimental techniques including biochemistry, cell biology and structural biology. [Visit the Hegde lab site.]

    Chia-Yi Kuan, MD, PhD, studies the mechanism of neuronal cell death following cerebral ischemia-hypoxia, and means to stimulate adult neurogenesis for cell replacement. These studies involve a broad spectrum of disciplines including genetic, biochemical, physiological, histological, cell biology, and MRI imaging techniques.

    Xinhua Lin, PhD, is interested in cell-cell signaling mechanisms that control tissue patterning during development. His lab focuses on the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans in morphogen distribution and signaling. The Lin lab also studies the molecular mechanisms of Wnt signaling in development. [Visit the Lin lab site.]

    Jun Ma, PhD, focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate embryonic development. His lab's work centers on a morphogenetic protein found in the fruit fly Drosophila, Bicoid, which directs the formation of the anterior structures in the embryo.

    Steven Potter, PhD, is interested in kidney and craniofacial development and disease. He uses a combination of laser capture microdissection, microarrays, and next generation sequencing, applied to both mouse models and human biopsy disease samples. [Visit the Potter Lab site.]

    Saulius Sumanas, PhD, utilizes zebrafish as a model system to study molecular mechanisms of the embryonic vasculature formation. [Visit the Sumanas lab site.]

    James Wells, PhD, researches the molecular mechanisms of endoderm organogenesis in mouse and humans. The goal of this work is to identify the molecular basis of congenital defects affecting the pancreas, liver, and biliary system and to direct the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) into therapeutic cells for replacement therapies, such as transplantable pancreatic beta cells for patients with type-1 diabetes. [Visit the Wells lab site.]

    Christopher Wylie, PhD, studies the differentiation of the germ line, and its contribution to the development of the early embryo. In particular we study the behavior of early germ line cells, and the control of patterning of the early embryo by stored mRNAs and proteins in the oocyte, including the formation of the primary germ layers, and the role of the cytoskeleton in controlling the architecture of the embryo. 

    Aaron Zorn, PhD, investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of organs such as the liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract, which are derived from the embryonic endoderm. [Visit the Zorn lab site.]

 
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    Developing Gastrointestinal Tract

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    Mouse embryo (E9.5) showing gene expression of the Tmprss2 gene (mRNA, yellow) in the developing gastrointestinal tract. (Photo courtesy of James Wells, PhD).
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    Drosophila Embryo

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    Ventral view of a Drosophila embryo showing the location of peripheral neurons (red) within different segments (marked in blue) along the developing body plan. (Photo courtesy of Brian Gebelein, PhD).