History of Developmental Biology

The Department of Pediatrics’ Section of Developmental Biology was established in 2004 under the direction of Lee Niswander, PhD. Work currently underway in the Section is forging 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.

To gain this new knowledge, faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and research staff study stem cell, organoid, and animal experimental models, including Drosophila, zebrafish, and mice. Their research focuses on several major tissue and organ systems, such as the brain, heart, intestine, face, and vascular, olfactory, and immune systems.

The Section of Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado is committed to research that improves child health. Faculty and researchers work collaboratively to:

  • Understand the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that guide normal development.
  • Determine how normal developmental processes are altered to result incdevelopmental disease and disability.
  • Identify new diagnostic strategies and molecular and cellular therapiesctargeted 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.

Studying the Zebrafish

Studying the zebrafish (Danio rerio), a freshwater fish with regenerative abilities, is allowing researchers in the Section of Developmental Biology to better understand how neurons develop. By examining neuronal development and maturation in this member of the minnow family, new knowledge is emerging on human birth defects such as spina bifida.

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