One of the most amazing events in biology is the development of a fertilized egg into a complex, mature organism with diverse cell types, tissues, and organs. The field of developmental biology seeks to understand the mechanisms controlling this remarkable process. To do so, developmental biologists use techniques developed in the areas of genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology and ideas derived from the study of gene expression, cell motility, signal transduction and others. As many human diseases such as cancer are really diseases of normal development gone awry, there is also overlap between developmental biology and areas such as cancer biology. Within our department, labs study developmental processes in several model systems, including the cellular amoeba Dictyostelium, the alga Volvox, the plant Arabidopsis, the roundworm C. elegans, as well as prostate and nervous system development in the mouse.
Faculty with Interest in Developmental Biology and Immunology:
We are studying the molecular basis of region- and tissue-specific expression of homeobox genes.
We are investigating the regulation of brain development and metabolism. These studies are expected to contribute to the prevention of neural tube birth defects and the treatment of stroke.
We study the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in controlling cell fate decisions during C. elegans development. We also study regulation and function of the Hox gene lin-39 in C. elegans.
Combining gene mapping and genome expression profiling to understand the genetic basis of age-related changes in the immune response.
Advancing our understanding of the regulatory networks controlling development and regeneration using novel computational automated methods able to infer mathematical dynamic models directly from experimental data.
Molecular genetic analysis of asymmetric cell division and cell fate determination in the green alga Volvox carteri
During development, many cells must move to new sites to fulfill their functions. We study the specification of these cells and the signals that control the timing and direction of their movements.
We are interested in how developmental defects lead to neurological diseases or enhanced neurodegeneration, as well as how the activation of the immune system affects brain function in Drosophila.