Welcome to the Department of Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis!

There are a number of unanswered questions about the fundamental mechanisms of development. We are using a variety of model organisms and cell-based systems to begin to answer many of these key questions and apply this knowledge to the mechanisms that lead to human birth defects and disease, with the hopes of discovering and improving future therapies.

We take a broad view of developmental biology, with our research groups studying everything from early embryogenesis and organogenesis to aging. We apply multidisciplinary approaches to this research that include forward and reverse genetics, epigenetics, molecular and chemical, and computational methods.

We place a strong emphasis on the study of embryogenesis, a fascinating process during which a fertilized egg undergoes divisions to form a mass of pluripotent cells that signal to one another to establish embryonic polarity, diverse cell types and organs, and that also undergo massive cell migrations and rearrangements to sculpt the embryonic body.

We are also studying the processes involved in tissue degeneration, repair and regeneration, the biology of embryonic and adult stem cells, as well as cellular reprogramming.

It is a particularly exciting time for developmental biology research, as recent technological breakthroughs in both animal model systems and genomics are bringing us insights into developmental processes at the epigenetic, genetic and molecular levels and enabling the monitoring of cell behaviors in vivo.

We are discovering genes that are responsible for birth defects and defining connections between many adult human diseases and their origins during embryogenesis.

The studies of stems cells, cellular reprogramming and regeneration are bringing us closer to curing human diseases, repairing damaged organs and extending the boundaries of aging.

With over 100 years of innovative discoveries, initially as the Department of Pharmacology, the Department of Developmental Biology is currently undergoing a major expansion.

Research in the Department occurs in a highly collegial atmosphere and involves interdisciplinary collaborations among members of the department and investigators throughout the School of Medicine, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Developmental Biology faculty have leading roles in several research centers, including:

The department has a rich tradition of mentoring undergraduate, graduate and medical students and postdoctoral fellows. We are committed to creating a research environment in which our trainees reach their maximum scientific potential and career goals, while addressing key outstanding questions and making important discoveries.

Currently, our department is home to students from several programs in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS), including

Thank you for visiting our website. I encourage you to explore the pages of individual Developmental Biology faculty, to come to our Developmental Biology Seminar on Mondays and to stop by for a cup of tea and cookies during our bi-monthly Friday Tea Time.

Lila Solnica-Krezel
Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Developmental Biology