Marianne Bronner is a developmental biologist with a long-standing interest in formation, migration and differentiation of neural crest cells, an embryonic cell type that makes most of the peripheral nervous system and craniofacial skeleton. Bronner was born in Budapest, Hungary, in December of 1952. Her family escaped during the Hungarian revolution and settled in Lawrenceville, N.J. She received her Sc.B. in Biophysics from Brown University in 1975 and her Ph.D. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 1979. She joined the faculty at University of California, Irvine, in 1980 and became a Full Professor in 1990 as well as co-director of the Developmental Biology Center. In 1996, she moved to the Division of Biology at Caltech where she is currently the Albert Billings Ruddock Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering and Executive Officer for Neuroscience. From 2001-2003, she was Chair of the Faculty at Caltech. She has been President of the Society for Developmental Biology (2009), Secretary of the International Society for Developmental Biology (2010-13), and President of the International Society for Differentiation (2014). She is currently an editor for the journals Developmental Biology, Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell and eLife.

Research Interests

Marianne Bronner's laboratory has a long-standing interest in the central question of developmental biology: how a complex organism develops from a single cell. Her studies center on the molecular mechanisms underlying formation and evolution of the neural crest, a highly multipotent stem cell population that gives rise to melanocytes of the skin, craniofacial skeleton and peripheral ganglia. Many of these cell types are prone to metastasis in the adult, for example contributing to melanoma and neuroblastoma, and these cancers often possess transcriptional signatures similar to those of embryonic neural crest cells. A major focus is the identification of the signaling and transcriptional interactions that lead to neural crest formation both at the tissue and the molecular level. Using a multiorganismal approach, their studies have combined gain- and loss-of-function approaches with genome-wide transcriptome profiling and regulatory analysis. This has led to the discovery of a neural crest gene regulatory network that is largely conserved to the base of vertebrates. As neural crest cells are amongst the most migratory cell type in vertebrate embryo, the Bronner lab also has been interested in characterizing the role of the migratory environment in influencing pathway choice.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology