Developmental biologists in the Department of Molecular Biosciences seek to understand the process by which single-celled zygotes give rise to all of the differentiated cell and tissue types in adult multicellular organisms. Researchers seek to understand how cells interact with each other during development to become differentiated and to take on distinct fates, as well as how cells migrate in the embryo and undergo shape changes to form tissues and organs. A diverse array of genetic model organisms are used, including the nematode worm C. elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila, the zebrafish, and rodents (mice, rats). Understanding how organisms normally develop is critical to understanding the basis of developmental disorders and syndromes, and mechanisms that normally govern development often go awry in diseases such as cancer. Furthermore, stem cells, the undifferentiated progenitors to tissues and organs, will be of increasing prominence in the future of medicine. Current research emphases in the department include developmental neurobiology, epithelial tissue organogenesis, and cancer biology.
Select a faculty member below to learn more about their research in this area: