How do developmental processes occur at the right time? What genetic and endocrine factors regulate developmental transitions in the skull? How can developmental timing be modified to cause congenital disease or create evolutionarily novel phenotypes?
Our lab uses the beautiful, complex zebrafish skull as a model to understand how craniofacial elements are normally integrated with one another during development. A major goal of our research is to understand the roles of thyroid hormone in vertebrate development, particularly the development of the craniofacial elements. Thyroid hormone stimulates amphibian metamorphosis, but its roles in the stimulating developmental transitions in 'non-metamorphic' vertebrates (including humans and zebrafish) are less well understood. Our work seeks to discover the mechanisms by which this endocrine factor specifically directs the morphogenesis of different elements within the skull. We are further working to discover other molecular factors that orchestrate vertebrate development, and to probe their biomedical and evolutionary relevance.
Our research integrates development, endocrinology and evolution, and we use molecular biology and many other tools to answer fundamental questions about form and function.