Yixian Zheng
Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Director of Embryology Yixian Zheng is one of 15 scientists awarded a grant from the...
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Illustration courtesy of Navid Marvi and Andres Aranda-Diaz.
Baltimore, MD—Antibiotics can make easy work of infections. But how do they affect the complex ecosystems of friendly bacteria that make up our microbiome? “When a doctor prescribes...
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Bellymount allows researchers to peer into the live tissue of the fruit fly gut.
Baltimore, MD— They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a real-time window into the complexity of the gastrointestinal system?  A new research tool allowed biologists to...
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Fetal Oocyte Attrition prevention, courtesy Marla Tharp and Navid Marvi.
Baltimore, MD— A woman’s supply of eggs is finite, so it is crucial that the quality of their genetic material is ensured. New work from Carnegie’s Marla Tharp, Safia Malki, and...
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Patellar tendon 30 days after an injury courtesy of Tyler Harvey.
Baltimore, MD—The buildup of scar tissue makes recovery from torn rotator cuffs, jumper’s knee, and other tendon injuries a painful, challenging process, often leading to secondary tendon...
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Kamena Kostova, courtesy Navid Marvi, Carnegie Institution for Science
Baltimore, MD— Carnegie biologist Kamena Kostova has been selected for the...
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GDNF repairs aged muscle stem cells courtesy of Liangji Li.
Washington, DC— An age-related decline in recovery from muscle injury can be traced to a protein that suppresses the special ability of muscle stem cells to build new muscles, according to work...
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This image captures the bright blue light (chemiluminesc ence) emitted by the NanoLuc protein in LipoGlo zebrafish. It is is provided courtesy of James Thierer.
Baltimore, MD—A newly developed technique that shows artery clogging fat-and-protein complexes in live fish gave investigators from Carnegie, Johns Hopkins University, and the Mayo Clinic a...
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Approximately half of the gene sequences of human and mouse genomes comes from so-called mobile elements—genes that jump around the genome. Much of this DNA is no longer capable of moving, but is likely “auditioning”  perhaps as a regulator of gene function or in homologous...
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The Marnie Halpern laboratory studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry. Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, they explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into...
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The Gall laboratory studies all aspects of the cell nucleus, particularly the structure of chromosomes, the transcription and processing of RNA, and the role of bodies inside the cell nucleus, especially the Cajal body (CB) and the histone locus body (HLB). Much of the work makes use of the giant...
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Yixian Zheng is Director of the Department of Embryology. Her lab has a long-standing interest in cell division. In recent years, their findings have broadened their research using animal models, to include the study of stem cells, genome organization, and lineage specification—how stem cells...
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Frederick Tan holds a unique position at Embryology in this era of high-throughput sequencing where determining DNA and RNA sequences has become one of the most powerful technologies in biology. DNA provides the basic code shared by all our cells to program our development. While there are about 30...
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There is a lot of folklore about left-brain, right-brain differences—the right side of the brain is supposed to be the creative side, while the left is the logical half. But it’s much more complicated than that. Marnie Halpern studies how left-right differences arise in the developing...
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Baltimore, MD—Mammalian females ovulate periodically over their reproductive lifetimes, placing significant demands on their ovaries for egg production. Whether mammals generate new eggs in adulthood...
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San Diego, CA— Ghosts are not your typical cell biology research subjects. But scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (...
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They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a real-time window into the complexity of the gastrointestinal system? A new research tool allowed biologists to watch in real time the...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Yixian Zheng
March 11, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Director of Embryology Yixian Zheng is one of 15 scientists awarded a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to support research on symbiosis in aquatic systems.

For the past two years, Zheng and her colleagues have been working to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of endosymbiosis in the relationships between coral and jellyfish and the photosynthetic algal species that they host. She has been building on Carnegie’s longstanding tradition of model organism development to begin revealing the genetics underlying the uptake and sustenance of symbiotic dinoflagellates by the soft coral species Xenia.

“I have always

Illustration courtesy of Navid Marvi and Andres Aranda-Diaz.
March 5, 2020

Baltimore, MD—Antibiotics can make easy work of infections. But how do they affect the complex ecosystems of friendly bacteria that make up our microbiome?

“When a doctor prescribes antibiotics, it sets up a multi-faceted experiment in your gastrointestinal system,” explains Carnegie’s Will Ludington “What can it teach us about the molecular principles of species interactions in nature?”

New work led by Ludington and Stanford University’s K.C. Huang set out to answer this challenging question and discovered a new form of antibiotic tolerance. Their findings, which have important health implications, are published by eLife.

Bellymount allows researchers to peer into the live tissue of the fruit fly gut.
March 2, 2020

Baltimore, MD— They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a real-time window into the complexity of the gastrointestinal system? 

A new research tool allowed biologists to watch in real time the cell renewal process that keeps gut tissue healthy, as well as the interactions between bacterial species that make up the microbiome. Their work, led by Lucy O’Brien and KC Huang of Stanford University and Carnegie’s Will Ludington, was recently published by PLOS Biology.

The system, dubbed Bellymount, allowed researchers to peer into the live tissue of the fruit fly gut and better understand the many complex, overlapping processes occurring

Fetal Oocyte Attrition prevention, courtesy Marla Tharp and Navid Marvi.
January 16, 2020

Baltimore, MD— A woman’s supply of eggs is finite, so it is crucial that the quality of their genetic material is ensured. New work from Carnegie’s Marla Tharp, Safia Malki, and Alex Bortvin elucidates a mechanism by which, even before birth, the body tries to eliminate egg cells of the poorest quality. Their findings describing this mechanism are published by Nature Communications.

“Some organisms produce a large number of offspring, many of which don’t survive to adulthood; females in these species continually produce new egg cells throughout their reproductive lives,” Bortvin explained. “But in mammals, females are born with a fixed

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The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg development, called oogenesis, which promises to provide insight into the rejuvenation of the nucleus and surrounding cytoplasm. By studying ovarian stem cells, they are learning how cells maintain an undifferentiated state and how cell production is regulated by microenvironments known as niches. They are  also re-investigating the role of steroid and prostaglandin hormones in controlling

The Fan laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that govern mammalian development, using the mouse as a model. They use a combination of biochemical, molecular and genetic approaches to identify and characterize signaling molecules and pathways that control the development and maintenance of the musculoskeletal and hypothalamic systems.

The musculoskeletal system provides the mechanical support for our posture and movement. How it arises during embryogenesis pertains to the basic problem of embryonic induction. How the components of this system are repaired after injury and maintained throughout life is of biological and clinical significance. They study how this system is

In mammals, most lipids, such as fatty acids and cholesterol, are absorbed into the body via the small intestine. The complexity of the cells and fluids that inhabit this organ make it very difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of the clear zebrafish larva  to visualize lipid uptake and processing in real time.  Given their utmost necessity for proper cellular function, it is not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie a number of human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

The Gall laboratory studies all aspects of the cell nucleus, particularly the structure of chromosomes, the transcription and processing of RNA, and the role of bodies inside the cell nucleus, especially the Cajal body (CB) and the histone locus body (HLB).

Much of the work makes use of the giant oocyte of amphibians and the equally giant nucleus or germinal vesicle (GV) found in it. He is particularly  interested in how the structure of the nucleus is related to the synthesis and processing of RNA—specifically, what changes occur in the chromosomes and other nuclear components when RNA is synthesized, processed, and transported to the cytoplasm.

The first step in gene expression is the formation of an RNA copy of its DNA. This step, called transcription, takes place in the cell nucleus. Transcription requires an enzyme called RNA polymerase to catalyze the synthesis of the RNA from the DNA template. This, in addition to other processing factors, is needed before messenger RNA (mRNA) can be exported to the cytoplasm, the area surrounding the nucleus.

Although the biochemical details of transcription and RNA processing are known, relatively little is understood about their cellular organization. Joseph G. Gall has been an intellectual leader and has made seminal breakthroughs in our understanding of chromosomes, nuclei and

Integrity of hereditary material—the genome —is critical for species survival. Genomes need protection from agents that can cause mutations affecting DNA coding, regulatory functions, and duplication during cell division. DNA sequences called transposons, or jumping genes (discovered by Carnegie’s Barbara McClintock,) can multiply and randomly jump around the genome and cause mutations. About half of the sequence of the human and mouse genomes is derived from these mobile elements.  RNA interference (RNAi, codiscovered by Carnegie’s Andy Fire) and related processes are central to transposon control, particularly in egg and sperm precursor cells.  

The mouse is a traditional model organism for understanding physiological processes in humans. Chen-Ming Fan uses the mouse to study the underlying mechanisms involved in human development and genetic diseases. He concentrates on identifying and understanding the signals that direct the musculoskeletal system to develop in the mammalian embryo. Skin, muscle, cartilage, and bone are all derived from a group of progenitor structures called somites. Various growth factors—molecules that stimulate the growth of cells—in the surrounding tissues work in concert to signal each somitic cell to differentiate into a specific tissue type.

The lab has identified various growth

Allan Spradling is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and director of the Department of Embryology. His laboratory studies the biology of reproduction particularly egg cells, which are able to reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging that govern all somatic cells—those that turn into non-reproductive tissues. Spradling uses the fruit fly Drosophila because the genes and processes studied are likely to be similar to those in other organisms including humans. In the 1980s he and his colleague, Gerald Rubin, showed how jumping genes could be used to identify and manipulate fruit fly genes. Their innovative technique helped establish Drosophila