Baltimore, MD— As we age, the function and regenerative abilities of skeletal muscles deteriorate, which means it is difficult for the elderly to recover from injury or surgery. New work from...
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Baltimore, MD—New work from Carnegie’s Allan Spradling and Lei Lei demonstrates that mammalian egg cells gain crucial cellular components at an early stage from their undifferentiated...
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Washington, D.C.—Matthew Sieber, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Embryology, has been honored for his extraordinary accomplishments, through a new program that recognizes exceptional...
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Baltimore, MD— Reproduction is highly dependent on diet and the ability to use nutrients to grow and generate energy. This is clearly seen in women, who must provide all the nutritional...
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San Diego, CA— Ghosts are not your typical cell biology research subjects. But scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the National Institute of Child Health and Human...
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The American Society for Cell Biology profiles Yixian Zheng and her recent papers on the elusive spindle matrix. "Zheng’s lab identifies new regulators in spindle assembly, all...
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Two researchers, Martin Jonikas of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology and Zhao Zhang of the Department of Embryology, have been awarded the New Innovator and Early Independence Awards,...
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Baltimore, MD— Every high school biology class learns about the tiny cells that comprise our bodies, as well as about many of the diverse actions that they perform. One of these actions is...
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Stem cells make headline news as potential treatments for a variety of diseases. But undertstanding the nuts and bolts of how they develop from an undifferentiated cell  that gives rise to cells that are specialized such as organs, or bones, and the nervous system, is not well understood....
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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 Zheng lab studies cell division including the study of stem cells, genome organization, and lineage specification. They study the mechanism of genome organization in development, homeostasis—metabolic balance-- and aging; and the influence of cell morphogenesis, or cell shape and...
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Staff Associate Kamena Kostova joined the Department of Embryology in November 2018. She studies ribosomes, the factory-like structures inside cells that produce proteins. Scientists have known about ribosome structure, function, and biogenesis for some time. But, a major unanswered question...
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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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Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing tool, biologists can now target specific genes for mutation and then see how this induced mutation manifests in an organism. But sometimes an organism compensates...
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Baltimore, MD— A woman’s supply of eggs is a precious commodity because only a few hundred mature eggs can be produced throughout her lifetime and each must be as free as possible from genetic damage...
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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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Explore Carnegie Science

Michael Diamreyan with Yixian Zheng, Frederick Tan, and Minjie Hu courtesy of Navid Marvi, Carnegie Embryology.
March 21, 2019

Baltimore, MD—Michael Diamreyan, a Johns Hopkins University undergraduate biophysics student with a Carnegie connection, has been awarded two prestigious research grants to further his independent investigations.  He is a member of Carnegie Embryology Director Yixian Zheng’s laboratory team, in collaboration with the department’s bioinformatician, Frederick Tan.

Diamreyan received an ASPIRE Grant (formerly called DURA grants), which recognizes “exceptional undergraduate students” from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) with funding for independent research projects. He was also named an Amgen Scholar, which

Super-resolution image of fly gut crypts colonized by the native Lactobacillus (red) and Acetobacter (green) bacteria. Fly cell nuclei appear blue. Image is courtesy of Benjamin Obadia.
December 4, 2018

Baltimore, MD—The interactions that take place between the species of microbes living in the gastrointestinal system often have large and unpredicted effects on health, according to new work from a team led by Carnegie’s Will Ludington. Their findings are published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The gut microbiome is an ecosystem of hundreds to thousands of microbial species living within the human body.  The sheer diversity within the human gut presents a challenge to cataloging and understanding the effect these communities have on our health.

Biologists are particularly interested in determining whether or not the

November 1, 2018

Baltimore, MD—Since Carnegie Institution’s Barbara McClintock received her Nobel Prize on her discovery of jumping genes in 1983, we have learned that almost half of our DNA is made up of jumping genes—called transposons. Given their ability of jumping around the genome in developing sperm and egg cells, their invasion triggers DNA damage and mutations. This often leads to animal sterility or even death, threatening species survival. The high abundance of jumping genes implies that organisms have survived millions, if not billions, of transposon invasions. However, little is known about where this adaptability comes from. Now, a team of Carnegie researchers has

October 10, 2018

Carnegie’s Department of Embryology scientist Steven Farber and team have been awarded a 5-year $3.3-million NIH grant to identify novel pharmaceuticals for combating a host of diseases associated with altered levels of lipoproteins like LDL (“bad cholesterol”). Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome have all been linked to changes in plasma lipoproteins. 

Lab efforts, led by graduate student Jay Thierer, started by creating zebrafish that have been genetically engineered to produce glowing lipoproteins, a technique they call “LipoGlo”. This was achieved by attaching DNA encoding NanoLuc (a relative

April 24, 2019

Butterflies are well known for the beautiful colors and patterns that decorate their wings. They function to attract mates, provide camouflage, or ward off predators. Many colors are created by pigments within the scales, but others, especially blues and greens, are produced by a remarkable phenomenon known as structural coloration.

In structural coloration, nanostructures, which are smaller than the wavelength of light, amplify certain colors and diminish others to create dazzling hues. On April 24th, Dr. Nipam Patel will describe a number of butterfly species that use structural coloration, and recent genetic and cellular insights into how scale cells generate the necessary

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 oocyte of amphibians and the equally giant nucleus or germinal vesicle (GV) found in it. He is particularly  interested in how the structure of the nucleus is related to the synthesis and processing of RNA—specifically, what changes occur in the chromosomes and other nuclear components when RNA is synthesized, processed, and transported to the cytoplasm.

The thyroid gland secretes thyroxine (TH), a hormone essential for the growth and development of all vertebrates including humans. To understand TH action, the Donald Brown lab studies one of the most dramatic roles of the hormone, the control of amphibian metamorphosis—the process by which a tadpole turns into a frog. He studies the frog Xenopus laevis, from South Africa, because it is easy to rear. Events as different as the formation of limbs, the remodeling of organs, and the resorption of tadpole tissues such as the tail are all directed by TH. How can a simple molecule control so many different developmental changes? The hormone works by regulating the expression of groups of

Stem cells make headline news as potential treatments for a variety of diseases. But undertstanding the nuts and bolts of how they develop from an undifferentiated cell  that gives rise to cells that are specialized such as organs, or bones, and the nervous system, is not well understood. 

The Lepper lab studies the mechanics of these processes. overturned previous research that identified critical genes for making muscle stem cells. It turns out that the genes that make muscle stem cells in the embryo are surprisingly not needed in adult muscle stem cells to regenerate muscles after injury. The finding challenges the current course of research into muscular dystrophy,

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

There is a lot of folklore about left-brain, right-brain differences—the right side of the brain is supposed to be the creative side, while the left is the logical half. But it’s much more complicated than that. Marnie Halpern studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry.

Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, Halpern 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

Staff Associate Kamena Kostova joined the Department of Embryology in November 2018. She studies ribosomes, the factory-like structures inside cells that produce proteins. Scientists have known about ribosome structure, function, and biogenesis for some time. But, a major unanswered question is how cells monitor the integrity of the ribosome itself. Problems with ribosomes have been associated with diseases including neurodegeneration and cancer. The Kostova lab investigates the fundamental question of how cells respond when their ribosomes break down using mass spectrometry, functional genomics methods, and CRISPR genome editing.

Kostova received a B.S. in Biology from the

The first step in gene expression is the formation of an RNA copy of its DNA. This step, called transcription, takes place in the cell nucleus. Transcription requires an enzyme called RNA polymerase to catalyze the synthesis of the RNA from the DNA template. This, in addition to other processing factors, is needed before messenger RNA (mRNA) can be exported to the cytoplasm, the area surrounding the nucleus.

Although the biochemical details of transcription and RNA processing are known, relatively little is understood about their cellular organization. Joseph G. Gall has been an intellectual leader and has made seminal breakthroughs in our understanding of chromosomes, nuclei and

Steven Farber

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.