The emphasis of the Developmental Biology and Genetics program is on the use of mammalian and non-mammalian model organisms to gain a better understanding of the development of craniofacial structures and to gain insights that may be applicable to the fields of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. A major focus of the program is a deeper understanding of the gene regulatory and signaling networks that control these processes. Projects falling within the purview of this branch can range temporally from the specification of the neural crest early in embryogenesis through the later development of teeth and craniofacial sutures.
Among the areas supported by this program are:
- Craniofacial neural crest specification and migration
- Mechanisms that regulate craniofacial developmental gene expression
- Pattern specification within developing craniofacial structures
- Cell fate determination, polarity, and differentiation as they apply to craniofacial development
- Interactions between different craniofacial cell types (e.g., epidermal and mesenchymal) and between different craniofacial cell types and extracellular matrix components
- Model organism studies of the role of prenatal nutrition and environmental exposures on craniofacial development
- Model organism studies of the effects of mutations on craniofacial developmental processes
- Evo-devo studies that illuminate the regulation of craniofacial development and identify new genes involved in this process.
- Global changes in gene and protein profiles occurring during craniofacial development
- Bioinformatic and computational biology analyses of existing datasets relevant to craniofacial biology (RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, etc.), especially studies making use of data from the FaceBase Consortium