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Welcome to Developmental Biology

The Section of Developmental Biology in the Department of Pediatrics provides insight into the underlying causes of human birth defects and diseases through basic scientific research.

Lee Niswander, PhD, moved from memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in new York City to head the new Section in 2004.  Along with Dr. Niswander, the Section includes the research group of Bruce Appel, PhD, who moved from Vanderbilt University in 2008 and is the recipient of the newly endowed Dianne G. Wallach Chair in Pediatric Stem Cell Biology; Julie Siegenthaler, PhD, Emily Bates, PhD; and Santos Franco, PhD.

The current emphasis is on understanding the normal developmental processes that regulate the formation of the central and peripheral nervous systems, the limb and lung. Moreover, these researchers are creating mouse and zebrafish models of genetic defects to determine why these developmental processes go awry in children born with birth defects (such as spina bifida) or who later develop neuromuscular defects.

Children’s Hospital Colorado Research Institute and the Gates Frontier Fund have helped to launch and establish the Section of Developmental Biology.


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