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
MCDB 4980 - Honors Research
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
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
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.