Research Interests

I study the molecular basis of development and evolution in vertebrates. Using genetic approaches in laboratory mice, we have identified key pathways that control the formation and maintenance of bones and joints in the vertebrate skeleton. By applying similar genetic approaches to natural populations of threespine stickleback fish, we have also been able to map and identify the key genes and mutations that underlie dramatic evolutionary changes in naturally occurring species. These studies show that evolution is surprisingly predictable, with particular genomic mechanisms used over and over again when similar traits evolve in different populations and independent locations. We are currently applying lessons from mice and sticklebacks to the study of evolutionary change in other species, including humans. We are still a long way from knowing the particular DNA changes that have made us human. However, we believe that the molecular mechanisms contributing to human-specific traits can now be studied, and that progress in this area will lead to important new insights into human health and human disease.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology