Message from the Chair
Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, Ph.D.
Welcome to the Department of Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis! The Developmental Biology Faculty employ a variety of model organisms and cell-based systems to answer key outstanding questions about the fundamental mechanisms of development and to apply this knowledge to pathogenic mechanisms leading to human birth defects and disease, and improve future therapies. We take a broad view of developmental biology, with our research groups studying diverse developmental processes including early embryogenesis, organogenesis, and aging, and applying multidisciplinary approaches that include forward and reverse genetics, epigenetics, molecular and chemical, and computational methods. Embryogenesis is a fascinating process during which a fertilized egg undergoes divisions to form a mass of pluripotent cells that signal to one another to establish embryonic polarity, diverse cell types, and organs, and that also undergo massive cell migrations and rearrangements to sculpt the embryonic body. We are also studying the processes involved in tissue degeneration, repair and regeneration, the biology of embryonic and adult stem cells, and cellular reprogramming. It is a particularly opportune time for developmental biology research, as recent technological breakthroughs in both animal model systems and genomics afford insights into developmental processes at the epigenetic, genetic and molecular levels, and enable the monitoring of cell behaviors in vivo. We are discovering genes that are responsible for birth defects and defining connections between many adult human diseases and their origins during embryogenesis. The studies of stems cells, cellular reprogramming, and regeneration are bringing us closer to curing human diseases, repairing damaged organs, and extending the boundaries of aging.
Having over a 100-year-long history of innovative discoveries, initially as the Department of Pharmacology, the Department of Developmental Biology is currently undergoing a major expansion. Research in the Department occurs in a highly collegial atmosphere and involves interdisciplinary collaborations between the members of the department, as well as investigators from different departments and centers throughout the School of Medicine, as well as the College of Arts and Science, and the School of Engineering. Developmental Biology Faculty have leading roles in several research centers, including the Center of Regenerative Medicine, the Center for Membrane Excitability, the Cardiovascular Research Center, and the Hope Center. The Department has a rich tradition of mentoring undergraduate, graduate and medical students, and postdoctoral fellows. We are committed to creating a research environment in which our trainees reach their maximal scientific potential and career goals, while addressing key outstanding questions and making important discoveries. Currently, our department is a home for students from several programs in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, including Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology; Neurosciences; Molecular Genetics and Genomics; Molecular Cell Biology; and Biochemistry, as well as from the Medical Scientist Training Program.
Thank you for visiting our website. I welcome you to explore the pages of individual Developmental Biology Faculty, to come to our Developmental Biology Seminar on Mondays, and to stop by for a cup of tea and cookies during our bi-monthly Friday Tea Time.
Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and Head
Engineering cell identity: establishing new gene regulatory and chromatin landscapes. Guo C, Morris SA. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2017 Jun 28;46:50-57.
Photoaffinity labeling with cholesterol analogues precisely maps a cholesterol-binding site in voltage-dependent anion channel-1. Budelier MM, Cheng WWL, Bergdoll L, Chen ZW, Janetka JW, Abramson…