The Section of Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado is committed to research that improves child health. Specifically, we have five main objectives:

  • Understand the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms that guide normal development
  • Determine how normal developmental processes are altered to result in developmental disease and disability
  • Identify new diagnostic strategies and molecular and cellular therapies targeted at treatment of childhood disease
  • Train the next generation of leaders in developmental and stem cell biology and pediatric disease research
  • Serve as a hub for basic and translational child health research that spans the Anschutz Medical Campus research community

To accomplish these objectives the faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and research staff who comprise the Section of Developmental Biology perform research using stem cell, organoid and animal experimental models, including Drosophila, zebrafish and mice. Our investigations focus on several major tissue and organ systems such as the brain, heart, intestine, face and vascular, olfactory and immune systems. Our work is leading to a better understanding of childhood disabilities associated with neuropsychiatric disease, Down syndrome, the congenital basis of cardiovascular and facial malformations and the impact of maternal health on fetal development.


Using live imaging in zebrafish, Katie Yergert, a graduate student in the Molecular Biology Program, and her colleagues in the Appel lab identified 3’ UTR motif sequences that help localize mRNAs to nascent myelin membrane during development. One motif is highly enriched within the myelin transcriptome, suggesting that it might serve as a global regulator of mRNA localization to myelin.

Katie M. Yergert, Caleb A. Doll, Rebecca O’Rourke, Jacob H. Hines, Bruce Appel

January 13, 2021

mRNA targeted to myelin sheaths