Baltimore, MD—A tremendous amount of genetic material must be packed into the nucleus of every cell—a tiny compartment. One of the biggest challenges in biology is to understand how certain regions...
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Baltimore, MD—Allan C. Spradling, Director Emeritus of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, has been awarded the 23rd March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnson, Jr., MD Prize in Developmental Biology as...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Neta Schwartz
Washington, DC—Not too long ago, biologists would induce mutations in an entire genome, isolate an organism that displayed a resulting disease or abnormality that they wanted to study, and then work...
Explore this Story
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science,
Baltimore, MD— The brain is the body’s mission control center, sending messages to the other organs about how to respond to various external and internal stimuli. Located in the forebrain, the...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science,
Washington, D.C.--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. Carnegie president...
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Washington, D.C.—BioEYES was accepted to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) video competition on May 15-22, 2017. BioEYES supporters are encouraged to go to the competition website at...
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On Tuesday night, George Church told us that a fascination with animatronic Abraham Lincoln at the 1964 World’s Fair partially inspired him to become a scientist. This seems fitting, somehow, since...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
Baltimore, MD—Studying how our bodies metabolize lipids such as fatty acids, triglycerides, and cholesterol can teach us about cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health problems, as well as...
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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...
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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 steructure, ...
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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 difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and...
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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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Yixian Zheng, director of the Department of Embryology, serves as co-interim president of Carnegie as of January 1, 2018. Her lab has a long-standing interest in cell division. In recent years, their findings have broadened their research using animal models, to include the study of stem cells,...
Meet this Scientist
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...
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June 28, 2018

Baltimore, MD—A tremendous amount of genetic material must be packed into the nucleus of every cell—a tiny compartment. One of the biggest challenges in biology is to understand how certain regions of this highly packaged DNA can be called upon, so that the genes encoded in them can be “turned on,” or expressed and used to manufacture RNA and proteins.

New work published in Molecular Cell by a team of biologists from Carnegie, Soonchunhyang University, and Johns Hopkins University has shed light on this process and their findings have implications for certain age-related diseases and organ decay.

The nucleus, where a cell’s DNA is housed, is surrounded by two membrane

May 7, 2018

Baltimore, MD—Allan C. Spradling, Director Emeritus of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, has been awarded the 23rd March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnson, Jr., MD Prize in Developmental Biology as “an outstanding scientist who has profoundly advanced the science that underlies our understanding of prenatal development and pregnancy.”

Department director and Carnegie co-interim president Yixian Zheng remarked, “Allan is a legend in developmental biology. We are all delighted by this well- deserved recognition of Allan’s groundbreaking research.”

Spradling’s decades of scientific accomplishments cover a broad spectrum of advancements. Since the early 20th century, the fruit

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Neta Schwartz
November 27, 2017

Washington, DC—Not too long ago, biologists would induce mutations in an entire genome, isolate an organism that displayed a resulting disease or abnormality that they wanted to study, and then work backward to determine which gene was responsible for the defect.  This process often took years to yield definitive results.

Now, thanks to the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing tool, biologists can target specific genes for mutation and then see how this induced mutation manifests in an organism—tackling the problem from the other direction. But they are finding that the expected physical changes don’t always occur.

Why?

New work from Carnegie’s Steven Farber and Jennifer

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science,
July 13, 2017

Baltimore, MD— The brain is the body’s mission control center, sending messages to the other organs about how to respond to various external and internal stimuli. Located in the forebrain, the habenular region is one such message-conducting system. Two new papers from Carnegie scientists explain how the habenulae develop and their unsuspected role in recovering from fear.

Found in all vertebrates, the bilaterally paired habenulae regulate the transmission of dopamine and serotonin, two important chemicals related to motor control, mood, and learning.

Previous research has shown that the habenular system is involved in modulating sleep cycles, anxiety, and pain and reward

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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

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, muscle

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 genes

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 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 musculoskeletal system to develop in the mammalian embryo. Skin, muscle, cartilage, and bone are all derived from a group of progenitor structures called somites. Various growth factors—molecules that stimulate the growth of cells—in the surrounding tissues work in concert to signal each somitic cell to differentiate into a specific tissue type.

The lab has identified various growth factors that

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.  

The Bortvin lab, with colleagues

Junior investigator Zhao Zhang joined Carnegie in November 2014. He studies how elements with the ability to “jump” around the genome, called transposons, are controlled in egg, sperm, and other somatic tissues in order to understand how transposons contribute to genomic instability and to mutations that lead to inherited disease and cancer. He particularly focuses on transposon control and its consequences in gonads compared to other tissues and has discovered novel connections to how gene transcripts are processed in the nucleus.To accomplish this work, Zhang frequently develops new tools and techniques, a characteristic of many outstanding Carnegie researchers. He recently received

Staff associate Christoph Lepper, with colleagues, 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, muscle injury, and regenerative medicine, which uses stem cells for healing tissues, and it favors using age-matched stem cells for therapy.

Previous studies showed that two genes Pax3 and Pax7, are essential for making the embryonic and neonatal muscle stem cells in the mouse. But Lepper and team for the