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Publications in VIVO

Niswander, Lee



Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • The Niswander lab investigates mouse models of embryonic development to provide insights into fundamental developmental processes, major human birth defects and potential clinical therapies. Her studies have revealed the molecular mechanisms that control formation of the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as lung, limb, and neuromuscular development. Current focus is on early brain formation and birth defects that arise when normal brain formation goes awry, like failure of neural tube closure or maintenance of neural progenitor cells, resulting in spina bifida or microcephaly. We use the mouse embryo and human induced pluripotent stem cells as models of human development. Our studies encompass genetics, epigenetics, and environmental factors, and live imaging to couple molecular insights to cell behaviors. Through collaborative efforts we are also exploring the genetic causes of neural tube defects in humans.


  • birth defects, neural tube defects, neural progenitors, human genetics, mouse development


selected publications


courses taught

  • MCDB 2150 - Principles of Genetics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2023 / Fall 2023
    Introduces the behavior of genes and chromosomes in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Covers three areas: transmission genetics, molecular genetics, and population genetics. Attention is given to genetic mapping, recombinant DNA procedures, and gene expression. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 1150 or EBIO 1210 or CHEN 2810 (minimum grade C-) and recommended corequisite of MCDB 2152. Degree credit not granted for this course and MCDB 2222.
  • MCDB 3145 - Molecular Cell Biology II
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    Examines intracellular mechanisms, including transport of ions and small molecules across membranes; protein targeting to organelles; membrane trafficking between organelles; signal transduction; the cytoskeleton; and the cell cycle. Recommended prerequisite or corequisite: MCDB 3140 concurrent with either this class or MCDB 3135.
  • MCDB 4980 - Honors Research
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2022
    Provides faculty-supervised research for students who have been approved by the departmental honors committee. Normally taken during the semester before completion of the honors thesis. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 4840 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.20.
  • MCDB 4990 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2022 / Spring 2023
    Involves the preparation and defense of an honors thesis, based on faculty-supervised original research, including final phases of the research project. Recommended prerequisites: MCDB 4840 or MCDB 4980 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.3 and approval by the MCDB Honors Committee.
  • MCDB 6000 - Introduction to Laboratory Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022 / Spring 2023 / Fall 2023
    Introduces methodology and techniques used in biological research. Designed as a tutorial between a few students and one faculty member. Students are expected to read original research papers, discuss findings, and to plan and execute experiments in selected areas. May be repeated up to 15 total credit hours.


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