Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

MCDB faculty members in developmental biology investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the differentiation of cells, the formation of tissues, and the development of organs and organisms. Research programs cover a broad range of developmental events in a variety of model systems, ranging from unicellular organisms to invertebrates, plants, flies, worms, rodents and humans. Topics include signal transduction in fertilization and organogenesis; molecular dynamics of neuronal differentiation, plasticity, and degeneration; and genetics and genomics of cell growth and programmed cell death. Stem cell research programs investigate the roles of adult and embryonic stem cells in normal development, as well as their potential in regenerative therapies for kidney disease, eye disorders, and neural degeneration. Interdisciplinary collaborations stimulate novel approaches that combine state of the art technologies from molecular biology, bioinformatics, and bioengineering. Interactions among groups, seminars, journal clubs, and courses in developmental and stem cell biology proved a rich and supportive environment for learning and discovery.


Dennis Clegg

Human stem cell research; Molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation; Derivation of ocular cells from stem cells; Soft tissue regeneration.

Anthony De Tomaso

Molecular mechanisms of self/non-self recognition in non-vertebrates; characterization of stem cells and development processes underlying regeneration and aging.

Stuart Feinstein

Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Neuronal Development; Biochemistry of Neurodegenerative Diseases; Structure, Function and Regulation of the Microtubule Associated Protein, Tau; Cytoskeletal Regulation.

Ruth Finkelstein

Molecular genetics of plant development; analysis of abscisic acid signaling networks.

Kathleen Foltz

Cellular and molecular basis of fertilization, egg activation and the egg-to-embryo transition using a variety of marine invertebrates.

Kenneth S. Kosik

Neural plasticity including the molecular basis of plasticity, the evolution of synapses, and disease-related impairments of plasticity such as occurs in Alzheimer's disease.

Denise J. Montell

My laboratory uses a combination of molecular, genetic, and state-of-the-art imaging approaches to define and solve fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology with implications for neurodegenerative disease, ischemic diseases and cancer.

Eduardo Orias

Tetrahymena genetics and genomics; genetic, physical and sequence mapping of the germline and expressed genomes of the unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila.

Stephen Poole

Molecular genetics of Drosophila development, focusing on genes with dominant misexpression phenotypes in adult bristles. Bioinformatic analyses of contact-dependent growth inhibition systems in diverse bacterial species.

Chris Richardson

We investigate DNA repair mechanisms and use this knowledge to improve gene editing.

Joel Rothman

Molecular and genetic control of development in the nematode C. elegans; regulation of programmed cell death; mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

Erkki Ruoslahti

Cell adhesion and tumor metastasis; study of molecular signatures in vessels, and the use of these vascular "zip codes" in targeted drug delivery.

William Smith

Developmental genetics and morphogenesis of the primitive chordate Ciona.

James A Thomson

Dr. Thomson studies the self-renewal and pluripotency of stem cells.

Thomas Weimbs

Investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and related renal diseases. Membrane trafficking and epithelial cell polarity.

Max Wilson

Combines tools from Biology, Engineering, and Physics to understand the cell’s perceptual field.