How does a fertilized egg give rise to an entire animal? How do billions of cells “know” how to work together to make complex tissues and organs? Where are stem cells found in animals and what makes cell a stem cell? How do stem cells replace cells that are lost in disease or through injury? How do animals give rise to eggs and sperm that give rise to the next generation? UCI scientists in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology focus area study these and other fundamental questions in the fields of stem cells, embryonic development and regeneration. We study these questions in all major model organisms, including the fruit fly, zebrafish, frog, mouse and human, but also actively work in less traditional, emerging model systems. We use all the techniques of modern molecular biology such as CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing, next generation sequencing, including single-cell sequencing and advanced microscopy, including light sheet and label-free imaging. Using unique strengths of UCI in Systems Biology, we also apply mathematics and computational modeling when looking for answers to the above questions. Ultimately our goal is to address some of biology’s most burning questions, not just because they are interesting but because the answers to these questions will help us solve some of the most pressing problems facing our species and our planet.

Featured Videos

Michael Hicks
Physiology & Biophysics
Skeletal muscle, muscle stem cells, and iPSCs with a focus on regeneration and cell therapies for muscle wasting diseases

Katherine L Thompson-Peer
Developmental & Cell Biology
Neuronal regeneration after injury; dendrite regeneration

Michael Parsons
Developmental & Cell Biology
Role of stem cells and facultative progenitors in development and regeneration of insulin-producing cells


  • Bogi Andersenbogi@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    The goal of my research is to understand the role of the circadian clock in skin and the gene-regulatory mechanisms underlying epidermal differentiation and repair.
  • Kavita Arorakarora@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We are interested in the diverse cellular responses triggered by TGF-ß signaling proteins in development. Recent areas of study are: the neuroendocrine control of developmental timing, and the regulation of metabolism by TGF-ß ligands.
  • Kevin Beierkbeier@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Identifying how experience modulates activity dynamics in neural circuits, both acutely and chronically
  • Bruce Blumbergblumberg@uci.edu,  Developmental & Cell Biology
    My lab focuses on multi-‘omic analyses of gene environment interactions important for development, adult physiology and disease predisposition using in vitro and in vivo models.
  • Anne L. Calofalcalof@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    My laboratory uses genetic model organisms to study how stem cell behaviors and gene expression changes both direct normal development and contribute to the etiology of syndromic and non-syndromic birth defects.
  • Ken W.Y. Chokwcho@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Using genomics, we study how early cellular differentiation events, particularly in the endodermal lineage leading to an animal’s gut and extraembryonic structures, are programmed.
  • Karina S. Cramer, cramerk@uci.edu, Neurobiology & Behavior
    Our lab studies molecular and cellular mechanisms needed for assembly of neural circuits. We are currently focused on axon guidance mechanisms and on the roles of glial cells.
  • Xing Daixdai@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Intrinsic and microenvironmental control of skin and mammary epithelial stem cell function in development and repair/regeneration, and how such control mechanisms go awry in disease and aging.
  • Dae Seok Eomdseom@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Long-range cell-to-cell communication via specialized cellular protrusions in development/homeostasis and disease contexts
  • Asuka Eguchi, asuka.eguchi@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    We study the pathogenic progression of genetic cardiomyopathies to develop therapeutic strategies for heart failure. Human iPSCs provide the disease model to study disease phenotypes
  • Michael Hicksmrhicks1@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Stem cell and gene therapies for skeletal muscle regeneration
  • Arthur Landeradlander@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We study the Systems Biology of growth, development, birth defects and cancer. Mathematical and computational approaches are used extensively.
  • Pablo Lara-Gonzalez, plaragon@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Molecular pathways that ensure accurate chromosome segregation in mitosis and their intersection with embryonic development; entry and exit from quiescence in response to nutrient signaling.
  • Ulrike Ludereruluderer@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We investigate mechanisms by which prenatal and postnatal exposures to toxic chemicals and ionizing radiation disrupt reproductive function and cause ovarian cancer.
  • Grant R. MacGregorgmacg@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Function of FNDC3 proteins in development, homeostasis and reproduction; Improved mouse models of late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Edwin S. Monukiemonuki@hs.uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Modeling and probing the roles and pathologies of the choroid plexus and cerebrospinal fluid on the human brain
  • Michael J. Parsons, mparson1@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Understanding how the pancreatic progenitors are regulated will inform how insulin-producing β cells are made and reveal transitions that occur during onset of pancreatic cancer.
  • Medha M. Pathak, medhap@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Our lab aims to understand how the mechanically-activated Piezo1 ion channel regulates neural stem cell fate at molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.
  • Maksim Plikus, plikus@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Stem cells and stem cell niche, Regeneration of tissues and organs, Biological pattern formation, Self-organization, Skin and hair follicles, Adipose tissue, WNT and BMP signaling pathways
  • Matt Rose, mfrose@hs.uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Mapping gene networks, cell fate, and neural wiring decisions with multi-omics and 3D-cleared and live imaging in neurodevelopment and models of neurologic disease
  • Thomas F. Schillingtschilli@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Our laboratory is generally interested in the early embryonic development of the vertebrate nervous and musculoskeletal systems. We study zebrafish, small teleost fish that have emerged as a powerful new genetic system for studying how genes control early development. The genetic mechanisms we are studying have important implications for human craniofacial birth defects and cancers.
  • Leslie M. Thompson, lmthomps@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to human neurodegenerative disease
  • Katherine Thompson-Peer, ktpeer@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Investigating how neurons respond and recover after injury
  • Rahul Warriorrwarrior@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The lab uses modern molecular and genetic approaches in Drosophila to study the regulation of proteoglycan synthesis and related questions in developmental and cell biology.
  • Momoko Watanabe, momokow@uci.edu, Anatomy & Neurobiology
    We use brain organoids derived from hPSCs to study human neural development and disease using molecular, cellular, and bioinformatic approaches


Faculty – Secondary Affiliation


  • Lauren Veronica Albrecht, l.albrecht@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Discovery of novel molecular pathways driving cell growth and tissue homeostasis in health and in disease.
  • Scott Atwood, satwood@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The Atwood lab is interested in how stem cell heterogeneity drives epidermal homeostasis and disease using models of skin development and cancer.
  • Lee Bardwell, bardwell@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We study cancer signaling pathways and other disease-relevant regulatory pathways, focusing on protein kinases, scaffold proteins, and transcription factors. We also do some computational/mathematical modeling.
  • Daniela Bota, dbota@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    To understand the biology and to develop new translational approaches for neurologic malignancies and cancer-related cognitive impairments.
  • Timothy Lamont Downingtim.downing@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    The Downing Lab explores new and innovative approaches to cell and tissue engineering. We are particularly interested in understanding how the genome is regulated through non-sequence-based changes to DNA (epigenetics) during healthy tissue development and disease progression.
  • Anand K. Ganesanaganesan@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Our work understands how melanocytes respond to environmental cues in the context of skin disease and cancer.
  • Christopher C.W. Hughescchughes@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Vascular biology with a focus on microphysiological systems, also called organ-on-chip technology. We work on cancer, neurological diseases, diabetes and vascular malformations
  • Matthew Arthur Kalani Inlay, minlay@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The biology, development, and therapeutic use of hematopoietic stem cells in blood and marrow transplantation, and the role of the immune system in graft tolerance and graft-versus-host disease.
  • Evgeny Kvon, ekvon@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The Kvon lab investigates mammalian gene regulation using cutting-edge genomics, genome editing, and transgenic tools. We are particularly interested in studying the role of gene regulation in development and evolution and how its malfunction leads to congenital disease
  • Thomas E. Lanetlane@uci.edu, Neurobiology & Behavior
    The focus of the laboratory is to evaluate underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and repair in pre-clinical models of neurologic disease.
  • Selma Masrismasri@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Cancer and stem cell biology, immune microenvironment, young-onset cancer and circadian clock disruption
  • Ali Mortazaviali.mortazavi@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Our lab is focused on mammalian functional genomics using short and long-read sequencing to understand gene regulatory networks.
  • Olga Razorenovaolgar@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We focus on kidney and breast cancer. We study tumor suppressors and oncogenes, as well as tumor cell microenvironment (especially hypoxia). We are interested in tumor cell metabolism and metastasis. Our ultimate goal is to find critical molecular targets expressed by cancer cells for therapy design.
  • Bryan Sun, sunb8@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    The Sun Laboratory studies genetic mechanisms of skin tissue development and disease with a particular interest on regulatory elements of the noncoding genome. We use primary cell culture, skin organoids, and human/patient samples for our research.
  • Sha Sunshasun@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The main focus of our research involves the functional roles of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in epigenetic programming.
  • Armando Villalta, villalts@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    The regulation of immune cell and tissue progenitor interactions in skeletal muscle degenerative and autoimmune disorders
  • Craig M. Walsh, cwalsh@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    T cell tolerance, autoimmunity, stem cells, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease