Robert A. Cornell, Ph.D.
The neural crest, a transient population of multi-potent precursor cells exclusively found in vertebrate embryos, gives rise to neurons, glia, and melanocytes, among other cell types. The neural crest is thus an attractive model in which to explore universal cellular developmental events like fate specification, migration, survival, and differentiation. Moreover, when these events go wrong in neural crest there can be dire consequences for the individual, including cleft lip and palate, neuroblastoma, neurofibromotosis, and melanoma. We strive to identify the gene products that regulate developmental decisions within the neural crest. Better knowledge of these genes will improve the ability of clinicians to predict the likelihood of an individual to succumb to such diseases. Moreover, developmental regulatory genes represent potential therapeutic entry points for a wide range of diseases. We use forward and reverse genetics methods in zebrafish towards this end.
- Developmental Genetics