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


  • Kavita Arora, karora@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Drosophila development; TGF-b signal transduction; cell signaling
  • Pierre Baldi, pfbaldi@ics.uci.edu, Computer Science, Biological Chemistry, and Development & Cell Biology
    Bioinformatics, computational biology, probabilistic modeling, and machine learning
  • Kevin Beierkbeier@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Identifying how experience modulates activity dynamics in neural circuits, both acutely and chronically
  • Bruce Blumberg, blumberg@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Gene regulation by nuclear hormone receptors in vertebrate development & adult physiology Epigenomic analysis of gene-environment interactions
  • Remi Buisson, rbuisson@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Genomic instability, DNA repair and mutagenesis in cancer
  • Anne L. Calof, alcalof@uci.edu, Anatomy & Neurobiology and Developmental & Cell Biology
    Regulation of stem cells in development and regeneration; genomic strategies for understanding the etiology and treatment of human neurodevelopmental disorders using transgenic mouse models
  • Ken W.-Y. Cho, kwcho@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis in early vertebrate development
  • Olivier Cinquin, ocinquin@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Systems biology of cell differentiation
  • Karina S. Cramer, cramerk@uci.edu, Neurobiology and Behavior,
    Explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms that facilitate axon targeting and synapse maturation in neural circuit assembly
  • Xing Dai, xdai@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Skin and mammary stem cells, Wnt signaling, chromatin, transcription
  • Peter J. Donovan, pdonovan@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry, Department of Developmental & Cell Biology
    Molecular Genetics of Germ Cell and Stem Cell Development
  • Dae Seok Eomdseom@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Intercellular signaling in stem cells and tissue remodeling
  • Michael Hicks, mrhicks1@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics Skeletal muscle, muscle stem cells, and iPSCs with a focus on regeneration and cell therapies for muscle wasting diseases
  • Matt Inlay, minlay@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Molecular mechanisms regulating developmental fate decisions in embryonic and adult hematopoiesis in mouse and humans.
  • Arthur D. Lander, adlander@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology and Pharmacology
    Mechanisms of growth factor action; extracellular matrix; developmental neurobiology; systems biology
  • Ulrike Luderer, uluderer@uci.edu, Medicine, Developmental & Cell Biology and Public Health
    Reproductive toxicology, developmental toxicology
  • Grant MacGregor, gmacg@uci.edu, Developmental Biology
    Gametogenesis in the mouse
  • Edwin S. Monuki, emonuki@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Developmental & Cell Biology
    Cerebral cortex development and disease
  • Michael Parsons, mparson1@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Role of stem cells and facultative progenitors in development and regeneration of insulin-producing cells
  • 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
  • Matthew Rose, mfrose@hs.uci.edu, Pathology
    Mapping gene networks, cell fate, and wiring decisions with multi-omics and 3D imaging in neurodevelopment and neurologic disease
  • Tom Schilling, tschilli@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Skeletal and neural patterning; mutational analysis and molecular genetics in the zebrafish
  • Robert E. Steele, resteele@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Molecular biology of Hydra development
  • Leslie M. Thompson, lmthomps@uci.edu, Psychiatry and Biological Chemistry
    Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to human neurodegenerative disease
  • Katherine L Thompson-Peer, ktpeer@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Neuronal regeneration after injury; dendrite regeneration
  • Momoko Watanabe, momokow@uci.edu, Anatomy & Neurobiology Human brain organoids as a model system for neural development and disease
  • Rahul Warrior, rwarrior@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Developmental regulation of proteoglycan biosynthesis; Transcriptional response to BMP growth factor signaling
  • Weian Zhao, weianz@uci.edu,  Biological Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences
    Stem cell engineering and clinical translation, molecular sensors and diagnostics, single-cell analysis and screening, cancer immunotherapy


Faculty – Secondary Affiliation


  • Lauren Albrecht, lvalbrec@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The Albrecht lab investigates the molecular basis of protein methylation as a novel regulator of proteostasis, cell metabolism, and tissue remodeling in cancer. By elucidating new mechanisms of cancer cell metabolism and growth, the studies in our lab aim to generate novel pharmacologic- and diet-based interventions. 
  • Bogi Andersen, bogi@uci.edu, Medicine and Biological Chemistry
    Transcriptional regulation in the developmental biology of epidermis and mammary gland
  • Daniela Bota, dbota@uci.edu, Neurology and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    The mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced cognitive damage, and differential mechanisms governing glioma stem cell versus neural stem cell differentiation
  • Adriana Briscoeabriscoe@uci.edu, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
    Evolution of sensory systems
  • Dongbao Chen, dongbaoc@uci.edu, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Angiogenesis and perinatal vascular biology
  • Christopher C.W. Hughes, cchughes@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Molecular biology of developmental and tumor angiogenesis
  • Kai Kessenbrock, kkessenb@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Microenvironmental Control of Stem Cells and Cancer
  • Evgeny Kvonekvon@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology  Transcriptional regulation in the context of mammalian development, evolution, and human congenital disorders
  • Thomas E. Lanetlane@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Defining the molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to both host defense and disease following viral infection of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Pablo Lara-Gonzalez, plaragon@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology, Molecular mechanisms of cell division and quiescence, regulation of chromosome segregation in mitosis
  • Selma Masrismasri@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry Cancer and stem cell biology, immune microenvironment, young-onset cancer and circadian clock disruption
  • Dequina Nicholas, dequinaa@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Function and metabolism of immune cells in type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome; Biology of lipid antigen presentation and pituitary macrophages
  • Medha Pathak, medhap@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    How mechanical forces shape neural stem cells behavior in vitro and in vivo; Transduction of mechanical forces by the Piezo1 ion channel.
  • Suzanne B. Sandmeyer, sbsandme@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Molecular genetics of a position-specific yeast retrovirus-like element
  • Sha Sun, shasun@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Long noncoding RNAs in epigenetic programming
  • Armando Villaltaarmando.villalta@uci.edu, Physiology and Biophysics
    Immune cell and organ system interactions that promote tissue injury and repair
  • Craig M. Walsh, cwalsh@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Apoptotic mechanisms in immune development and homeostasis 
  • Ping Wang, phwang@uci.edu, Medicine, Biological Chemistry, Physiology & Biophysics, and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Molecular hormone actions in diseases and stem cells
  • Marian L. Waterman, marian.waterman@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    Regulation of LEF-1 gene expression in lymphocytes and cancer