Development, Stem Cells, and Regeneration


The formation of an entire organism from a single cell is one of the most remarkable processes in biology. It requires coordinated regulation of cell division, differentiation, polarity and migration. Ultimately, individual cells, often from disparate lineages with unique properties, assemble into tissues with specialized functions. Delineating the molecular regulation of these fascinating processes is not only fundamental to understanding the rules that govern tissue and organ formation, but also mechanisms of homeostasis which, when disrupted, lead to the progression of many disease states.  Remarkable advances in optical microscopy and live cell imaging now make it possible to visualize complex processes from the sub-cellular level to single cells and from tissues to whole embryos. Combined with traditional genetics, powerful gene-editing technologies and genome-level analyses, developmental biologists now have an unprecedented set of tools available to probe mechanistic underpinnings of complex biological processes. Research at UVA features rich and diverse training in modern Developmental Biology from a creative and internationally-recognized faculty. Our research in developmental biology employs the latest cellular, molecular, biophysical and microscopic technologies to perform studies in engineered mutant mice, Drosophila, Xenopus, C. elegans, and Zebrafish to define mechanisms that coordinately regulate tissue morphogenesis.

Insights into these fundamental developmental mechanisms will enable scientists to modulate the commitment of pluripotent human stem cells toward specific cell types and organoids. Breakthrough discoveries in fundamental developmental mechanisms are thus a prerequisite for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Understanding the mechanisms that govern tissue development is also needed to promote tissue regeneration, and for defining processes that are dysregulated in the progression of prevalent diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration. New efforts are under way to bridge developmental biologists with genomic and translational scientists to create a Developmental Genomics Center at UVA. A major goal of these collaborative efforts will be to interrogate developmentally related databases, identify gene mutations that may cause pediatric disorders, and test them in our in vivo and stem cell models. This will provide an avenue for disease gene discovery and the development of patient-specific therapeutic strategies.


  • Barker, Thomas H.

    Matrix Biology and Engineering

  • Bielinsky, Anja Katrin

    Genome instability syndromes in cancer and immune deficiencies

  • Chalfant, Charles Edward

    Hematology and Oncology, Cell Biology, Lipid Signaling, Cancer Cell Signaling, and RNA Biology

  • Cope, Elise

    Adult-born neurons, perineuronal nets, and microglia in hippocampal plasticity and behavior in health and disease

  • Coutinho-Budd, Jaeda

    Neuron-glia and glial-glial interactions

  • Deppmann, Christopher

    Elucidating and Understanding the Mechanisms Underlying Nervous System Development

  • DeSimone, Douglas W.

    Cell Adhesion and Adhesion-Dependent Cell Signaling in Vertebrate Morphogenesis

  • Dwyer, Noelle

    Neural Development; Cell Division in Neural Stem Cells; Axon Outgrowth and Guidance

  • Ebrahim, Seham

    Cytoskeletal architecture, dynamics and roles in cellular physiology and disease; High-resolution live cell and tissue imaging

  • Halme, Adrian J.

    Regeneration and Systemic Responses to Tissue Damage

  • Hinton, Barry T.

    Morphogenesis of the Developing Wolffian/Epididymal duct

  • Hirschi, Karen Kemper

    Understanding Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Leading to Blood Vessel Formation

  • Jiang, Hao

    Regulation of stem cell function and tumorigenesis by epigenetics and biomolecular condensation (phase separation)

  • Keller, Raymond E.

    Cellular and molecular mechanisms of morphogenesis

  • Kucenas, Sarah C.

    The role of glia in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system

  • Kulkarni, Saurabh

    Precision medicine, translational science, regeneration, organoids, high resolution imaging, computational modeling

  • Kuyumcu-Martinez, Muge N

    RNA regulatory networks and RNA binding proteins during cardiovascular development and in cardiovascular disease

  • Laurie, Gordon W.

    Restoration of Homeostasis in Disease

  • Liu, Xiaorong

    Developing novel neuroprotection strategies to preserve vision in glaucoma

  • O’Rourke, Eyleen Jorgelina

    Obesity and Aging

  • Parichy, David

    Developmental Genetics, Evolution and Regeneration

  • Park, Kwon-Sik

    Mechanisms of tissue/organ homeostasis and tumorigeensis

  • Sheynkman, Gloria M.

    Proteoform Systems Biology: proteogenomic approaches to uncover the role of proteomic variation in human disease

  • Siegrist, Sarah

    Regulation of neural stem cell proliferation during development and adulthood

  • Sutherland, Ann E.

    Cell behavior and morphogenesis during early mouse development.

  • Trinh, Bon Q

    Understanding Protein and RNA regulations of gene expression via chromatin structure in myeloid cell development and diseases

  • Winckler, Bettina

    Endosomal function and dysfunction in neurons. Development of the nervous system: cytoskeleton and membrane traffic in axon and dendrite growth.

  • Wotton, David

    Regulation of Gene Expression, Development and Tumor Progression by TGF beta Signaling

  • Zong, Hui

    Early detection, cancer prevention, and tumor microenvironment