Our keynote speakers represent the wide variety of research being done in our region. Keynote speakers include Dr. Sharon Amacher, Ohio State University, Department of Molecular Genetics and of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Dr. Ting Xie, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Department of Ophthalmology and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and Dr. James M. Wells, University of Cincinnati, Department of Pediatrics. A full list of speakers may be seen below. To kick off the meeting, we will have an Education Workshop, organized by Dr. Ian Duncan, entitled: "Teaching Developmental Biology for the future: an interdisciplinary approach to distance learning."


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 Keynote Speakers


Anthony (Tony) Pawson, Ph.D.

Distinguished Investigator, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai

UPDATE 08/12/13:  It is with great sadness that we notify you of the death of Dr. Anthony (Tony) Pawson.  The announcement of his death shocked not only his long time colleagues and close-knit community at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, but also the global science community as a whole.  The MWSDB and the Department of Developmental Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, extend their sincere condolences to the Tony Pawson family.

Dr. Pawson was a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology and a University Professor at the University of Toronto. Dr. Pawson was a Distinguished Scientist of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, held the Apotex Chair in Molecular Oncology, and was an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Ting Xie, Ph.D.

Professor, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Department of Ophthalmology


Ting Xie is an investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, MO and an affiliated professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, University of Kansas School of Medicine and Vision Research Center, UMKC, Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Xie’s research focus is on understanding basic regulatory mechanisms of stem cell regulation in the Drosophila ovary and retinal stem cell development in the mouse eye.


He has made seminal contributions to a better understanding of how the microenvironment or niche works with intrinsic factors within stem cells to control adult stem cell self-renewal and differentiation using Drosophila ovarian stem cells as a model. Particularly, he was the first to demonstrate: 1) that the niche exists for germline stem cells in the Drosophila ovary; 2) that E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion is required for stem cell anchorage in the niche and for stem cell competition for niche occupancy; 3) that stem cell aging is controlled extrinsically and intrinsically; 4) that chromatin remodeling factors are required for maintaining adult stem cell self-renewal; 5) how niche signaling and intrinsic factors work together to control adult stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Finally, he has recently shown that retinal stem cells derived from the adult mouse can generate functional photoreceptors to restore light response in the photoreceptor-deficient retinitis pigmentosa mouse model.


Talk title: "Extrinsic and Intrinsic Control of Germline Stem Cell Self-renewal and Differentiation"

Sharon Amacher  

Sharon Amacher, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Ohio State University

Dr. Amacher’s lab is interested in how cells become sequentially determined to more precisely defined fates during vertebrate embryonic development, and how this process depends upon cell position and upon interactions among neighboring cells. To address these questions, Dr. Amacher’s lab uses genetics, molecular biology, and embryology to investigate mesodermal patterning and segmentation in the zebrafish embryo.

Talk title: "Tissue patterning with RNA oscillations: single cell resolution imaging of segmentation clock dynamics"


James M. Wells, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati


Dr. Wells works on the study of molecular mechanisms underlying endoderm organogenesis. In particular, Dr. Wells’ basic research is focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in the embryonic development of endocrine cells, including pancreatic beta cells, as well as tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. These projects are the basis for his translational research program, which aims to improve child health in several ways: 1. To identify and use embryonic pathways to generate complex, three-dimensional organ tissues from pluripotent stem cells; 2. Use these tissues to develop new in vitro human models for diabetes and digestive disease research; 3. Develop long-term, therapeutic strategies for developing cell and tissue-replacement therapies.

Talk title: "Using human pluripotent stem cells to develop new models of endoderm organ development and disease"


 Session Chairs

Session I Chair: Kristen Kroll, Ph.D.

Kristen Kroll  

Associate Professor, Department of Developmental Biology, Washington University School of Medicine
Session Title: Early Development
Dr. Kroll’s lab is interested in understanding how embryonic and embryonic stem (ES) cells regulate self-renewal, lineage commitment and differentiation, and are studying these questions in the context of vertebrate neural development.

Talk title: "Epigenetic regulation of embryonic cell fate choice"

Five talks for this session will be selected from submitted abstracts.


Session II Chair: Elizabeth Haswell, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Haswell  

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
Session Title: Plants and Animals
The long-term goal of research in the Haswell lab is to reveal the molecular mechanisms that underlie the perception and transduction of mechanical signals in plants. Many organisms sense and respond to mechanical forces, and one way in which this can be accomplished is through the activation of mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels.

Talk title: "MscS-Like Mechanosensitive Ion Channels: Answering the Osmotic Challenges of Plant Development"

Five talks for this session will be selected from submitted abstracts. Several talks related to plant development will be included in this session.


Session III Chair: Karen Sears, Ph.D.


Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Animal Biology
Assistant Professor, School of Integrative Biology
Faculty Member, Institute for Genomic Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session Title: Organogenesis

The Sears Lab investigates how developmental mechanisms have influenced the morphological diversification of the mammalian limb, and thereby the evolution of mammals. Research in the lab is motivated by a desire to understand how development has been modified to generate new limb morphologies, and the role that development and genetics play in influencing why certain morphologies evolve (sometimes repeatedly) instead of others. To pursue these questions, lab members combine traditional embryological and paleontological approaches with modern developmental and genetic techniques to gather data from fossil and living mammals.


Talk title: "The role of development in mammalian limb evolution"

Five talks for this session will be selected from submitted abstracts.


Session IV Chair: Greg Dressler, Ph.D.

Greg Dressler  

Professor, Department of Pathology,  University of Michigan School of Medicine
Session Title: Development and Disease
Dr. Dressler’s lab has studied the role of transcription factors and cell signaling pathways in renal development and disease. The lab has made numerous discoveries including: the Pax2 gene, the function of GDNF/c-ret in kidney development and chemotaxis, the function of KCP, the first enhancer of BMP signaling, in renal fibrosis, and the function of the epigenetic co-factor PTIP in histone methylation.

Talk title: "Epigenetic Mechanisms of Developmental Regulation by the Pax Family of Proteins"

Five talks for this session will be selected from submitted abstracts.


Session V Chair: Indira Mysorekar, Ph.D.

Indira Mysorear  

Assistant Professor, Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pathology & Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine
Session Title: Tissue Repair and Regeneration

The Mysorekar lab is interested in the cellular and molecular details of adult stem cell biology of the mammalian urinary bladder. We use a model of urothelial injury induced by infection with uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), the primary causative agent of a common infectious disease in women, urinary tract infections (UTIs). Using a blend of confocal and electron microscopy, laser-capture micro-dissection, oligonucleotide arrays, histopathologic analyses, and inducible genetic disruption of key genes in mouse models, we are delineating the cellular mechanisms and molecular regulators that govern the normal rapid, injury-induced regenerative response of otherwise quiescent urothelial stem cells and to apply what we learn about the normal mechanisms to shed light on the disease processes with abnormal urothelial turnover (e.g. recurrent UTIs, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, bladder cancer). We are also investigating a role for the sex hormone, estrogen, in modulating susceptibility to UTIs and regulating regeneration following infection/injury.


Talk Title: "Estrogenic modulation of bladder epithelial repair and regeneration following injury"

Five talks from junior faculty will be selected.



 Dinner Speaker


Jeffrey Gordon, M.D.

Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor at Washington University School of Medicine


Jeffrey Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. His lab studies the genomic and metabolic foundations of mutually beneficial host-microbial relationships in the human gut. A central issue they are addressing is how our gut microbiomes impact our nutritional status, including obesity and childhood undernutrition, and help determine the nutritional value and metabolic effects of the various foods we consume.


Talk title: "The gut microbiota and childhood malnutrition"