The purpose of this section is to recognize the accomplishments of Society members that have made a major impact by advancing the scientific knowledge in craniofacial genetics and developmental biology. We also hope that curious visitors will discover the clinical and scientific breath and depth of the Society and will personally join us.
Timothy Cox is a Professor and holder of the Laurel Endowed Chair in Craniofacial Research in the University of Washington’s Department of Pediatrics (Division of Craniofacial Medicine) and the Center for Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. His research aims to understand the genetic and epigenetic contributions to craniofacial development and susceptibility to common craniofacial conditions, such as cleft lip, midface hypoplasia and craniofacial microsomia, and discover new interventional and preventative therapies for these debilitating conditions. His lab utilizes both the mouse and chick as developmental model systems and complements this with gene discovery on relevant patient cohorts. This research employs the latest technologies for controlled genetic manipulation and quantitative 3D imaging to assess the impact of gene variants and maternal diet on embryologic and postnatal craniofacial phenotypes. This is complemented by cell biological studies both in the animal models and relevant cell culture systems. Tim also serves as Director of the Seattle Craniofacial Center’s Small Animal Tomographic Analysis (SANTA) Facility.
Dr. Lisa Taneyhill is an Associate Professor of Developmental Biology in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland. Her research explores how cellular junctions, akin to the molecular “velcro” that keeps cells together, are dismantled to generate migratory cell types and later reassembled to allow multiple cell types to interact to create new tissues and organs. To address these questions, the Taneyhill lab utilizes both chick neural crest and placode cells, which are initially stationary but later become migratory, in part, through modulation of cell adhesion. This research is significant and will impact society by enhancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of migratory cells, a process co-opted during human diseases such as cancer, and the intercellular interactions required to create more complex structures in an embryo or adult organism. The lab employs a wide variety of experimental techniques, including chick embryology, cell culture, biochemistry, molecular biology, and live-cell imaging. Throughout her years at the University of Maryland, Dr. Taneyhill has received funding from the NSF, NIH, and the American Cancer Society. She is the author of 31 peer-reviewed publications, included four review articles and three book chapters. Most recently, Dr. Taneyhill served on the international Committee on Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms: Recommendations for Responsible Conduct that was formed by the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Sally A. Moody, Ph.D.,
Professor and Chair of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Dr. Moody was trained in Neuroscience and Developmental Biology. She has directed a biomedical research laboratory focused on the development of the nervous system for over 30 years. Her lab has studied numerous aspects of neural cell development in a number of animal models. Her favorite, however, is the frog Xenopus because of their large eggs and rapid development, the ease of performing gene gain- and loss-of-function in specific tissues, and the applicability of the information we gain to other vertebrates, including humans, due to a high degree of genome homology. Currently there are three major projects in the laboratory. First, we are discovering the role of a neural transcription factor, FoxD4, in the formation of neural stem cells. We have shown in both frog embryos and mouse embryonic stem cells that FoxD4 is required for the cells to become part of the nervous system and it plays an important role in controlling the onset of neural cell differentiation. We currently are determining whether maternal proteins found in blastomeres that give rise to the nervous system, including FoxD4, bias embryonic cells prior to neural induction to become neurons. Second, we are studying what genes are required for the proper formation of the sensory organs of the head. In frogs, fish, chicks and humans, the Six1 gene is pivotal for the development of the olfactory sensory epithelium, lens of the eye, inner ear and cranial sensory ganglia. We are identifying new genes that interact with Six1 in order to discover the genetic causes of birth defects that impact these organs. Third, as part of a program project grant, we are studying the neural developmental causes of swallowing dysfunctions (dysphagia) in a mouse model of 22Q11 Deletion (DiGeorge) Syndrome. Patients and mice with this deletion do not feed properly, and thereby grow slower. They also are prone to inner ear infections and pneumonia because they aspirate food into their airways. We are testing the hypothesis that there are deficits in the formation of the cranial nerves that control the muscles of chewing and swallowing that result in this clinical problem.
Dr. Moody has served on numerous NIH, NSF and international study sections, as Treasurer of the Society for Developmental Biology, is the current Treasurer of the International Xenopus Board and the current Vice President of the Society for Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology. She recently chaired the 2017 Gordon Research Conference on “Neural Crest and Cranial Placodes”. She has edited three books (“Cell Lineage and Fate Determination”, Academic Press, 1998; “Principles of Developmental Genetics”, Elsevier, 2007; the second edition of “Principles of Developmental Genetics” Elsevier, 2014) and is Editor-in-Chief of genesis, The Journal of Genetics and Development.