Developmental Biology

Developmental Biology

Congenital anomalies occur in 1-2% of births and remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality for newborn infants worldwide. Understanding the processes of normal development and normal embryogenesis are critical for the prevention and treatment of congenital anomalies. Researchers in our division conduct basic science research on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of development using a variety of model systems with the goal of identifying the causes of human birth defects. Collaboration with clinical researchers has enhanced our progress in understanding the causes of complex congenital anomalies.

For further information, please visit the faculty websites listed below and the Division of Developmental Biology.

James Greenberg, MD  Lung vasculature and lymphatic development
Alan Kenny, MD, PhD  Early endodermal patterning and liver/pancreas development
Kristin Melton, MD  Neural crest biology and craniofacial development
Vivek Narendran, MD, MRCP  Innate immunity of the skin and surface antimicrobial peptides
Jeffrey Whitsett, MD  Lung epithelial patterning and development, tracheal development [Visit the Whitsett Lab.]


Heart of a 16 day old zebrafish.
Defects in development of the heart valves and their precursors (the endocardial cushions) are responsible for a significant percentage of congenital heart malformations in neonates. Researchers in the division are working to identify the genetic and physiologic factors which regulate development of these structures. The image above shows the heart of a 16 day old zebrafish. The two developing atrioventricular valve leaflets are seen in the center of the image and express a mesenchymal marker, Vimentin, shown in red. The valves point towards the ventricle in the lower half of the image. (Image courtesy of the Bartman Lab.)