The Program in Developmental Biology is an interinstitutional and interdepartmental program which enlists more than 60 faculty from 11 different departments and three different institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Rice University. These institutions are located in the Texas Medical Center and within easy walking distance of Baylor College of Medicine.
The Program provides research training in developmental biology for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Faculty members in the Program use molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches to study pattern formation in Dictyostelium discoideum, Drosophila, C. elegans, mouse, Xenopus, zebrafish, or human. The major aspects of study are: neurobiology, cancer biology, cell death, neurodegenerative (and other diseases), stem cell biology, reproductive development, oogenesis, muscle and heart development, kidney, bone and skin development, homeobox genes, limb development, eye development, cell lineage specification, X chromosome dosage compensation, and plant differentiation. The Program favors a cross-species approach and is especially eager to attract graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who wish to explore how recent exciting findings made in Dictyostelium, Drosophila, C. elegans and vertebrates can be extended to other species, including humans.
Many of the genes that have first been discovered in model systems have now been shown to be conserved in many species. Defining their precise role in a variety of organisms remains one of the main challenges of modern biology. Hence, studying the function of genes in many different organisms and trying to define the similarity and differences of molecularly conserved genes in developmental processes is one of the main areas of focus of the Program in Developmental Biology.
The participating faculty in the Program in Developmental Biology are well funded through the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and other competitive research grants as well as the Searle and Markey Foundations, the Max Planck and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The faculty occupy extensive research space with state-of-the-art instrumentation and computing equipment. Cooperative and collaborative interactions among program laboratories, with other programs, departments, and organizations are frequent and rewarding, and enable students and postdoctoral fellows to take full advantage of the facilities at the Texas Medical Center.
Within the Program in Developmental Biology, scientific interaction is promoted by joint labmeetings, research meetings, journal clubs, and a number of regularly scheduled seminars at which internationally known scientists present their research. Additional opportunity for scientific (and social) interaction takes place at an annual retreat where students and faculty present their research and progress, and discuss science in an informal interactive atmosphere.