February 11, 2015 Dr. Douglas Koshland, University of California Berkeley, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology Remarkable organisms exemplify extremes in the spectrum of life, like transparent...
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We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently...
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Baltimore MD— We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young...
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Baltimore, MD—Biologist Marnie Halpern of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of...
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In mammals, most lipids, such as fatty acids and cholesterol, are absorbed into the body via the small intestine. The complexity of the cells and fluids that inhabit this organ make it very...
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As animals age, their immune systems gradually deteriorate, a process called immunosenescence. It is associated with systemic inflammation and chronic inflammatory disorders, as well as with many...
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Baltimore, MD—As animals age, their immune systems gradually deteriorate, a process called immunosenescence. It is associated with systemic inflammation and chronic inflammatory disorders, as...
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The hypothalamus is an essential brain center that maintains multiple physiological homeostatic processes by modulating pituitary hormone secretions. Two centers (nuclei) of the hypothalamus, the...
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Approximately half of the gene sequences of human and mouse genomes comes from so-called mobile elements—genes that jump around the genome. Much of this DNA is no longer capable of moving, but is likely “auditioning”  perhaps as a regulator of gene function or in homologous...
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The Gall laboratory studies all aspects of the cell nucleus, particularly the structure of chromosomes, the transcription and processing of RNA, and the role of bodies inside the cell nucleus, especially the Cajal body (CB) and the histone locus body (HLB). Much of the work makes use of the giant...
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The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg...
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The Ludington lab investigates complex ecological dynamics from microbial community interactions using the fruit fly  Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly gut carries numerous microbial species, which can be cultured in the lab. The goal is to understand the gut ecology...
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Frederick Tan holds a unique position at Embryology in this era of high-throughput sequencing where determining DNA and RNA sequences has become one of the most powerful technologies in biology. DNA provides the basic code shared by all our cells to program our development. While there are about 30...
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The mouse is a traditional model organism for understanding physiological processes in humans. Chen-Ming Fan uses the mouse to study the underlying mechanisms involved in human development and genetic diseases. He concentrates on identifying and understanding the signals that direct the...
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YouTubeBaltimore, MD— As all school-children learn, cells divide using a process called mitosis, which consists of a number of phases during which duplicate copies of the cell's DNA-containing...
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Yixian Zheng has been selected to direct Carnegie’s Department of Embryology in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been Acting Director since February 1st of 2016.
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Matthew Sieber, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Embryology, has been honored for his extraordinary accomplishments, through a new program that recognizes exceptional Carnegie...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Coral and legume roots. New staff scientists study symbiosis in these systems.
August 19, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Department of Embryology welcomes two new Staff Scientists, both of whom specialize in researching the symbiotic relationships between species.

Brittany Belin joined Carnegie this month from Caltech and Phillip Cleves will arrive in September from Stanford University. Although their work approaches the issue using different organisms, their investigations are important to understanding survival mechanisms in the increasingly stressful conditions caused by climate change.

Belin’s postdoctoral research focused on soil bacteria called rhizobia, which form symbiotic relationships with legumes such as soybeans and alfalfa. The microbes

Experimental zebrafish larvae, courtesy Navid Marvi.
August 7, 2020

Baltimore, MD—New work led by Carnegie’s Meredith Wilson and Steve Farber identifies a potential therapeutic target for clogged arteries and other health risks that stem from an excess of harmful fats in the bloodstream.  Their findings are published by PLOS Genetics. 

“Cardiovascular disease occurs when lipids from the blood plasma are deposited in the walls of blood vessels, ultimately restricting blood flow,” explained Farber, who specializes in elucidating how cells process lipids. “This complex disease affects about a third of the world’s population, so improving our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the levels of

Xenia in Carnegie's coral facility, courtesy Carnegie Embryology
June 17, 2020

Baltimore, MD— New work from a team of Carnegie cell, genomic, and developmental biologists solves a longstanding marine science mystery that could aid coral conservation. The researchers identified the type of cell that enables a soft coral to recognize and take up the photosynthetic algae with which it maintains a symbiotic relationship, as well as the genes responsible for this transaction.

Their breakthrough research is published in Nature.

Corals are marine invertebrates that build large exoskeletons from which reefs are constructed. But this architecture is only possible because of a mutually beneficial relationship between the coral and various species of

Yixian Zheng
March 11, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Director of Embryology Yixian Zheng is one of 15 scientists awarded a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to support research on symbiosis in aquatic systems.

For the past two years, Zheng and her colleagues have been working to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of endosymbiosis in the relationships between coral and jellyfish and the photosynthetic algal species that they host. She has been building on Carnegie’s longstanding tradition of model organism development to begin revealing the genetics underlying the uptake and sustenance of symbiotic dinoflagellates by the soft coral species Xenia.

“I have always

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The Marnie Halpern laboratory studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry. Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, they explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord.

The zebrafish is ideal for these studies because its basic body plan is set within 24 hours of fertilization. By day five, young larvae are able to feed and swim, and within three months they are ready to reproduce. They are also prolific breeders. Most importantly the embryos are transparent, allowing scientists to watch the nervous system develop and to

The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg development, called oogenesis, which promises to provide insight into the rejuvenation of the nucleus and surrounding cytoplasm. By studying ovarian stem cells, they are learning how cells maintain an undifferentiated state and how cell production is regulated by microenvironments known as niches. They are  also re-investigating the role of steroid and prostaglandin hormones in controlling

The Fan laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that govern mammalian development, using the mouse as a model. They use a combination of biochemical, molecular and genetic approaches to identify and characterize signaling molecules and pathways that control the development and maintenance of the musculoskeletal and hypothalamic systems.

The musculoskeletal system provides the mechanical support for our posture and movement. How it arises during embryogenesis pertains to the basic problem of embryonic induction. How the components of this system are repaired after injury and maintained throughout life is of biological and clinical significance. They study how this system is

In mammals, most lipids, such as fatty acids and cholesterol, are absorbed into the body via the small intestine. The complexity of the cells and fluids that inhabit this organ make it very difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of the clear zebrafish larva  to visualize lipid uptake and processing in real time.  Given their utmost necessity for proper cellular function, it is not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie a number of human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

The Ludington lab investigates complex ecological dynamics from microbial community interactions using the fruit fly  Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly gut carries numerous microbial species, which can be cultured in the lab. The goal is to understand the gut ecology and how it relates to host health, among other questions, by taking advantage of the fast time-scale and ease of studying the fruit fly in controlled experiments. 

Integrity of hereditary material—the genome —is critical for species survival. Genomes need protection from agents that can cause mutations affecting DNA coding, regulatory functions, and duplication during cell division. DNA sequences called transposons, or jumping genes (discovered by Carnegie’s Barbara McClintock,) can multiply and randomly jump around the genome and cause mutations. About half of the sequence of the human and mouse genomes is derived from these mobile elements.  RNA interference (RNAi, codiscovered by Carnegie’s Andy Fire) and related processes are central to transposon control, particularly in egg and sperm precursor cells.  

Brittany Belin joined the Department of Embryology staff in August 2020. Her Ph.D. research involved developing new tools for in vivo imaging of actin in cell nuclei. Actin is a major structural element in eukaryotic cells—cells with a nucleus and organelles —forming contractile polymers that drive muscle contraction, the migration of immune cells to  infection sites, and the movement of signals from one part of a cell to another. Using the tools developed in her Ph.D., Belin discovered a new role for actin in aiding the repair of DNA breaks in human cells caused by carcinogens, UV light, and other mutagens.

Belin changed course for her postdoctoral work, in

Phillip Cleves’ Ph.D. research was on determining the genetic changes that drive morphological evolution. He used the emerging model organism, the stickleback fish, to map genetic changes that control skeletal evolution. Using new genetic mapping and reverse genetic tools developed during his Ph.D., Cleves identified regulatory changes in a protein called bone morphogenetic protein 6 that were responsible for an evolved increase in tooth number in stickleback. This work illustrated how molecular changes can generate morphological novelty in vertebrates.

Cleves returned to his passion for coral research in his postdoctoral work in John Pringles’ lab at Stanford