During the course of development, complex biological structures develop from simple ones. A single cell gives rise to an entire organism, such as a human, fish, or tree. Undifferentiated stem cells transform into limbs and organs. Neurological networks are established and higher order thought processes take root. Researchers in developmental genetics seek to understand how such complicated organisms, structures, and processes arise from such simple building blocks. More specifically, they are interested in determining how genes control this process of development.
Human Genetics faculty at the University of Michigan are fascinated by questions in developmental genetics and are working hard to provide answers. At the forefront of developmental genetics research, they are busy probing the causes of infertility (Hammoud, Mueller), seeking to understand the mechanisms leading to birth defects (Camper) and neuro-developmental disorders (Martin), and studying intricate developmental processes such as X-chromosome inactivation (Kalantry) and genome regulation (Robins). Some faculty study human development through the direct analysis of genetic disease, while others use model systems such as mice, zebrafish, and cells to better understand development at the genetic, molecular, and cellular levels. From the study of body patterning (Innis) to the genetic basis of neural development (Bielas, Kwan, Iwase), the faculty in the Human Genetics Department are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. Please browse the profiles of the developmental genetics faculty below to explore the research of individual laboratories.