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.


  • Kavita Arora,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Drosophila development; TGF-b signal transduction; cell signaling
  • Pierre Baldi,, Computer Science, Biological Chemistry, and Development & Cell Biology
    Bioinformatics, computational biology, probabilistic modeling, and machine learning
  • Kevin, Physiology & Biophysics
    Identifying how experience modulates activity dynamics in neural circuits, both acutely and chronically
  • Bruce Blumberg,, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Gene regulation by nuclear hormone receptors in vertebrate development and adult physiology
  • Remi Buisson,, Biological Chemistry
    Genomic instability, DNA repair and mutagenesis in cancer
  • Anne L. Calof,, 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,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis in early vertebrate development
  • Olivier Cinquin,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Systems biology of cell differentiation
  • Xing Dai,, Biological Chemistry
    Skin and mammary stem cells, Wnt signaling, chromatin, transcription
  • Peter J. Donovan,, Biological Chemistry, Department of Developmental & Cell Biology
    Molecular Genetics of Germ Cell and Stem Cell Development
  • Dae Seok, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Specialized cellular projection-mediated cell-to-cell signaling
  • Matt Inlay,, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Molecular mechanisms regulating developmental fate decisions in embryonic and adult hematopoiesis in mouse and humans.
  • Arthur D. Lander,, Developmental & Cell Biology and Pharmacology
    Mechanisms of growth factor action; extracellular matrix; developmental neurobiology; systems biology
  • Ulrike Luderer,, Medicine, Developmental & Cell Biology and Public Health
    Roles of toxicant exposure and oxidative stress in ovarian aging, premature ovarian failure and ovarian cancer
  • Grant MacGregor,, Developmental Biology
    Gametogenesis in the mouse
  • Edwin S. Monuki,, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Developmental & Cell Biology
    Cerebral cortex development and disease
  • Diane K. O’Dowd,, Developmental & Cell Biology and Anatomy & Neurobiology
    Electrical excitability and synaptic connectivity during development
  • Michael Parsons,, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Role of stem cells and facultative progenitors in development and regeneration of insulin-producing cells
  • Maksim Plikus,, 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
  • Tom Schilling,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Skeletal and neural patterning; mutational analysis and molecular genetics in the zebrafish
  • Robert E. Steele,, Biological Chemistry
    Molecular biology of Hydra development
  • Leslie M. Thompson,, Psychiatry and Biological Chemistry
    Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to human neurodegenerative disease
  • Katherine L Thompson-Peer,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Neuronal regeneration after injury; dendrite regeneration
  • Rahul Warrior,, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Developmental regulation of proteoglycan biosynthesis; Transcriptional response to BMP growth factor signaling
  • Weian Zhao,,  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