Developmental Biology

  • Protein Structure and Function

    Research in this area seeks to enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying normal organ development, and how these processes might be disrupted in disease states.

    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.]

    Tiffany Cook, PhD, is interested in understanding the molecular basis of eye development, and how these processes are disrupted in disease states. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model, we combine cellular, molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches to dissect the events underlying the development of the lens and retina. [Visit the Cook lab site.]

    Jay Degen, PhD, studies the mechanisms by which circulating and cell-associated hemostatic factors contribute to development, tissue reorganization, inflammatory processes and disease. A particular focus of research is to define the regulatory pathways by which thrombin and thrombin targets contribute to cancer biology, inflammatory joint disease, neuroinflammatory disease, bacterial virulence/host defense, and immunological disorders. [Visit the Degen 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.]

    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.]

    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.

    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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    Protein Structure

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    A model of a phosphotyrosine docked into the active site of the EYA protein tyrosine phosphatase. EYA plays a key role in embryonic organ development and EYA dysfunction is associates with developmental disorders. (Image courtesy of Rashmi Hegde, PhD).