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Publications in VIVO

Niswander, Lee Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • The Niswander lab investigates mouse models of embryonic development to provide insights into fundamental developmental processes, major human birth defects and potential clinical therapies. Her studies over the years have revealed the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as lung, limb, and neuromuscular development. The current focus of the lab is on the common and severe birth defect wherein the neural tube (NT) fails to close resulting in neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida. Using genetic, molecular, biochemical and cell biological assays they have identified numerous genes involved in NT closure and determined their mechanisms of action. The lab uses time-lapse imaging of the living mammalian embryo to couple molecular insights to the cell behaviors that drive NT closure. Environmental factors influence human NTD risk, and her lab uses mouse models to explore gene-environment interactions.


  • birth defects, neural tube defects, neural progenitors, human genetics, mouse development


selected publications


courses taught

  • MCDB 3145 - Molecular Cell Biology II
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    Examines intracellular mechanisms, including transport of ions and small molecules across membranes; protein targeting to organelles; membrane trafficking between organelles; signal transduction; the cytoskeleton; and the cell cycle. Analysis of these activities is from the experimental perspective established in MCDB 3135. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 3135 (minimum grade C-), and recommended prerequisite or corequisite of MCDB 3140 concurrent with either this class or MCDB 3135.
  • MCDB 4980 - Honors Research
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Provides faculty-supervised research for students who have been approved by the departmental honors committee. Normally taken during the semester before completion of the honors thesis. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 4840 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.20.
  • MCDB 4990 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Involves the preparation and defense of an honors thesis, based on faculty-supervised original research, including final phases of the research project. Recommended prerequisites: MCDB 4840 or MCDB 4980 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.3 and approval by the MCDB Honors Committee.
  • MCDB 6000 - Introduction to Laboratory Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2020
    Introduces methodology and techniques used in biological research. Designed as a tutorial between a few students and one faculty member. Students are expected to read original research papers, discuss findings, and to plan and execute experiments in selected areas. Open only to MCDB graduate students. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours.


International Activities

global connections related to teaching and scholarly work (in recent years)

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