Washington University in St. Louis - School of Medicine
Department of Developmental Biology


The Developmental Biology Department encompasses a group of faculty with primary interests and expertise in developmental biology, stem cell biology, physiology and aging. At present, the principal research activities of this department are focused on the profoundly complex challenge of attaining a mechanistic understanding of organogenesis, encompassing the earliest developmental processes in the embryo, organism and cellular physiology, and tissue homeostasis and repair. The ultimate goal is to understand development and physiology in enough detail to recapitulate organogenesis in vitro and to generate replacement tissues that function in vivo. This long-term goal has immense potential benefit for human health. A comprehensive understanding and integration of developmental biology, stem cell biology, physiology and aging will facilitate translational approaches to preventing and treating a variety of genetic, developmental, metabolic and neurological diseases, and cancer.

The discipline of developmental biology is far reaching and integrates many fields, approaches and technologies and presently engages faculty in most departments at Washington University. The research mission of this department is to understand how evolutionarily conserved sets of signaling pathways generate cell, tissue and organ diversity, with the long term goal of uncovering the basic mechanisms underlying animal development, physiology, tissue maintenance and aging. In addition to understanding fundamental mechanisms, members of this department are highly committed to translating new findings from the bench to the bedside, and to promoting collaborations throughout and beyond Washington University. In the long term, these efforts will facilitate the replacement of stopgap medicine (organ donation or xenografts) with in vitro grown, genetically and physiologically compatible replacements. Key research initiatives and technologies will include development of organ culture systems, quantitative systems biology approaches to understanding the function of transcriptional, protein and metabolic networks in embryonic and adult cells, and somatic gene transfer.

Further goals of this department are to educate and to train graduate students, medical students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical faculty, and to serve as a university focal point for developmental biology-related activities.

Upcoming Events

Apr 23

Mary Baylies, Ph.D.

Department of Developmental Biology Seminar Series

Sloan Kettering Institute 12:00 pm, Needleman Library

Apr 25


Development and Regenerative Biology / Cell-Cell Interactions in Cancer Research Forum (Wednesday)

May 2


Development and Regenerative Biology / Cell-Cell Interactions in Cancer Research Forum (Wednesday)

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Faculty News

  • Dr. Helen McNeill’s January 2018 Publication

    Congratulations to Dr. Helen McNeill's Lab on their recent publication! Reciprocal Spatiotemporally Controlled Apoptosis Regulates Wolffian Duct Cloaca Fusion. Hoshi M, Reginensi A, Joens…

  • Dr. Kristen Kroll’s December 2018 Publication

    Congratulations Dr. Kristen Kroll's Lab on their new publication. Regulatory networks specifying cortical interneurons from human embryonic stem cells reveal roles for CHD2 in…

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