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College of Graduate Studies

Genetics and Development

 Andy Wessels, Ph.D. - Division Director, 843-792-8183

The Division of Genetics and Development offers training and research in the field of genetics and developmental biology, which utilizes a variety of animal models to assess the gene functions in embryonic development. Modern developmental genetics has become the central organizing field in all traditional disciplines in biology, such as cell biology, molecular biology, anatomy, evolution, and ecology. It has also contributed greatly to more practical fields such as medicine, environmental science and agriculture. The model systems studied by the faculty members include Drosophila (fruit fly) for oogenesis and vascular system development, zebrafish for environmental impact on embryogenesis, Xenopus (frog) for neurogenesis, chick for the formation of cardiovascular system, mice for a variety of organogenesis such as limb and follicle development, hematopoiesis, heart formation and mammary development, and human familial diseases for genetic linkage studies. In addition to transgenic and knockout technology, a variety of cell culture systems, including those for human stem cells, are utilized in the research.

Time-lapse confocal laser scanning picture of changing gene expression in the developing heart tube.

Drosophila trachea marked by immunohistochemistry and observed by confocal laser microscopy. The wild-type embryo (upper pane) shows an intricate network of tubular structure. The network is disrupted in mutants of the Drosophila oncogene pnt (lower panel).

The picture shows a new-born mouse [top] defective in hair follicle development as compared to the normal animal [bottom]. The defect is induced by Hox gene over-expression.

Genetics & Development Course Descriptions

Cellular signaling during Development MCBP-743

This course is designed to build on the Regulation of Gene Expression, Biomembranes, Receptors and Signaling and Systems Biology units of the first year curriculum for Ph.D., and complement ongoing department-specific seminars and journal clubs. Cellular Signaling during Development will provide the students with an in depth look at ongoing research in the field of developmental biology with a strong focus on the signaling networks that control the important developmental processes. Emphasis will also be placed on the pathology of dysregulated signaling mechanisms in diseases. It will allow for a broad scope of understanding of the techniques, theories and practices involved in the delineation of cellular signaling in complex systems. The course will begin, in the first 2 sessions, with an outline of and introduction to topics to be discussed. Review and discussion of papers by the students will follow. For each paper discussed the presenting student will first provide overviews that will serve as background material. Grades will be based on the quality of presentation and participation.
3 credit hours
Course Director: Robin Muise-Helmericks, Co-Director: Rick Visconti
The course is offered in the Spring Semester of alternate years (starting 2005).

Genetics & Development Faculty

Alexander Awgulewitsch, Ph.D.
Role of Hox genes in cartilage & muscle development and transgenic models for skin and hair defects

John E. Baatz, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatrics, Division of
Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis

Narayan R. Bhat, Ph.D.
Department of Neurology
Glial cell lineages in nervous system development

Stephen Ethier, Ph.D.
Professor, Endowed Chair
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Cancer Genetics

Gary Gilkeson, M.D.
Division of Rheumatology
Genetics of autoimmunity and of racial disparity in autoimmunity

Stanley R. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Function of specific ECM proteins and MMP's in development

Philip H. Howe, Ph.D.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Signaling pathways activated by TGFB1 and Wnt and their potential cross-talk in cellular models of differentiation and cancer

Jennifer Isaacs, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Dept of Pharmacology
Role of cancer secreted chaperones as mediators of tumor promotion and metastasis

Michael Kern, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Defining the molecular/genetic circuitry of patterning genes in bone, craniofacial, and cardiovascular development.
Target genes of homeobox transcription factors: microarrays and beyond.


Janardan P. Pandey, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Microbiology and Immunology
Role of cytokine and immunoglobulin genes in infectious and autoimmune diseases.

Chandrakala Puligilla, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Molecular Induction, Cellular Fate Specification and Patterning of the Mammalian Auditory System

Baerbel Rohrer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Retinal development and genetics of retinal degeneration

Carlos Salinas, D.M.D.
Pediatric Dentistry
Clinical aspects of birth defects affecting the craniofacial structures, and the oral & dental manifestations of genetic & systemic disorders

Demetri D. Spyropoulos, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
Mammary gland & male urogenital system development, and hematopoiesis

Dennis K. Watson, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Cancer Genomics
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Effects of gene dosage on development: knockout and transgenic models

Andy Wessels , Ph.D.
 Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
 Cardiovascular Development Biology Center
 Cardiovascular Development



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