A photo of Samantha Brugmann.

Member, Division of Plastic Surgery

Associate Professor, UC Department of Surgery


Biography & Affiliation


I am a developmental biologist studying craniofacial development and disease. The long-term goal of my research is to help children with craniofacial anomalies by generating tissue amenable for surgical repair. To achieve this goal, my lab specifically focuses on the role of a cellular organelle (the primary cilium) during craniofacial development and the craniofacial anomalies that arise when the cilium do not function properly (ciliopathies).

Projects in my lab utilize avian, murine and human-induced pluripotent stem cells to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms associated with craniofacial anomalies.

My lab has uncovered the genetic cause of an avian mutant line called talpid2. Our work determined that the talpid2 was caused by a mutation in the protein coding gene C2 Domain Containing 3 Centriole Elongation Regulator (C2cd3) and, as such, could serve as a bona fide animal model for the human ciliopathic disorder orofacial-digital-syndrome (OFD). This discovery has allowed for novel experimentation of molecular mechanisms and treatment options for children with OFD.

In addition to using existing animal models to understand human craniofacial disorders, we are also sequencing patients and generating cell-based models to uncover novel genetic causes for craniofacial ciliopathies.

For my work, I was recognized with the 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering. This award is the highest honor given by the United States government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology. In 2017, I received a Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) grant award from the National Institutes of Health. This grant allows mid-career investigators with outstanding productivity to have stable funding as they pursue potentially transformative research programs.

Research Interests

Craniofacial development

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Surgery


Plastic Surgery, Developmental Biology


BS: Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.

PhD: George Washington University, Washington DC.

Fellowship: Stanford University, Stanford, CA.


Sending mixed signals: Cilia-dependent signaling during development and disease. Elliott, KH; Brugmann, SA. Developmental Biology. 2019; 447:28-41.

RDH10-mediated retinol metabolism and RARα-mediated retinoic acid signaling are required for submandibular salivary gland initiation. Metzler, MA; Raja, S; Elliott, KH; Friedl, RM; Tran, NQ H; Brugmann, SA; Larsen, M; Sandell, LL. Development (Cambridge). 2018; 145:dev164822-dev164822.

A novel role for cilia-dependent sonic hedgehog signaling during submandibular gland development. Elliott, KH; Millington, G; Brugmann, SA. Developmental Dynamics. 2018; 247:818-831.

Neural crest cells utilize primary cilia to regulate ventral forebrain morphogenesis via Hedgehog-dependent regulation of oriented cell division. Sehock, EN; Brugmann, SA. Developmental Biology. 2017; 431:168-178.

Discovery, Diagnosis, and Etiology of Craniofacial Ciliopathies. Schock, EN; Brugmann, SA. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 2017; 9:a028258-a028258.

Cilia-dependent GLI processing in neural crest cells is required for tongue development. Millington, G; Elliott, KH; Chang, Y; Chang, C; Dlugosz, A; Brugmann, SA. Developmental Biology. 2017; 424:124-137.

A tissue-specific role for intraflagellar transport genes during craniofacial development. Schock, EN; Struve, JN; Chang, C; Williams, TJ; Snedeker, J; Attia, AC; Stottmann, RW; Brugmann, SA. PLoS ONE. 2017; 12:e0174206-e0174206.

Unique spatiotemporal requirements for intraflagellar transport genes during forebrain development. Snedeker, J; Schock, EN; Struve, JN; Chang, C; Cionni, M; Tran, PV; Brugmann, SA; Stottmann, RW. PLoS ONE. 2017; 12:e0173258-e0173258.

Engineered human pluripotent-stem-cell-derived intestinal tissues with a functional enteric nervous system. Workman, MJ; Mahe, MM; Trisno, S; Poling, HM; Watson, CL; Sundaram, N; Chang, C; Schiesser, J; Aubert, P; Stanley, EG; et al. Nature Medicine. 2017; 23:49-59.

Craniofacial Ciliopathies Reveal Specific Requirements for GLI Proteins during Development of the Facial Midline. Chang, C; Chang, Y; Millington, G; Brugmann, SA. PLoS Genetics. 2016; 12:e1006351-e1006351.