Developmental Biology Group

The Development Biology Group, recently started by Dr. Martin Cohn, is meeting approximately every third Thursday of the month from 12-1 pm in CGRC 451. Dr. Cohn states that the group is a "vehicle for getting together and discovering common interests" and an excellent "venue for the exchange of ideas."

There are currently 25 PI's involved from a wide range of fields. The members of the group are tied together through one common interest, according to Dr. Cohn.

"The group has people coming from horticulture as well as people coming in scrubs from the OR," Dr. Cohn said. "Everyone is interested at a fundamental level in the same problems and that is how do cells communicate with each other to generate patterned structures and what happens when those activities go wrong, whether it’s in a field or in a developing human."

Dr. Cohn stated that anyone with an interest in development, regeneration, tissue engineering, gene regulation and evolution would benefit from joining the group.

“We have some people with clinical interests, interested in understanding the developmental basis of diseases and structural birth defects in particular.” Cohn said. “We have other members interested in how these genetic programs for development have changed over evolutionary time to drive evolutionary changes in the organismal form. We have stem cell biologists, surgeons, as well as plant biologists interested in the growth and development of foods.”

During its first year, the group will be have internal talks from faculty members. There will be three speakers at each meeting who will give short talks followed by a question answer sessions. Each PI will talk about their overall research interests and current projects.

“After going through whole rotation of PI’s, we will hand over those talks to the students and post-doc’s,” Dr. Cohn said. “It will be a forum for trainees to talk about their work and find new collaborators and get new input and new ideas.”

Later, the group will host external speakers from a variety of institutions to talk about their work and development of a number of different organ systems and organisms, discussing a wide range of problems.

In 2018 Science Magazine named research related to developmental biology as its “Breakthrough Of The Year.” The research entitled “Development cell by cell” refers to this new level of resolution for single cell analysis of gene expression, gene regulation, and organ development.

Dr. Cohn spoke about the different research tools being used in ICBR that relate to development biology and the single cell revolution.

"We have a new platform for that here in ICBR, new imaging technologies, and new ways of modeling development in living models, such as these things called organoids,” Dr. Cohn said. “This is ways of looking at development in three dimensions with single cell resolution in culture, where you can observe real time development of kidney tissues, brain tissues, pancreas tissues and so on in a dish.”

“Developmental Biology itself, resulted from the fusion of embryology (classical descriptive developmental anatomy) and molecular genetics,” Dr. Cohn said. “This fusion occurred in the 1980’s which led to an incredible renaissance in the 90’s. A time when new genes involved in the regulation of development, were being reported every week. This appears to be happening once again.”

For more information about the Developmental Biology Group contact Dr. Cohn at mjcohn@ufl.edu.

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