Carole LaBonne, PhD
Director, Interdepartmental Program in Biological Sciences (IBiS)
Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
The laboratory of Carole LaBonne uses molecular genetic and genomic approaches to study the development of a group of embryonic cells called the neural crest. Neural crest cells are migratory, tissue-invasive stem cells that originate in the ectoderm of vertebrate embryos and play a central role in the development of the vertebrate body plan. Defects in neural crest development underlie a large and diverse set of human congenital defects. Moreover, neural crest cells share a number of characteristics with metastatic tumor cells, and she and others have shown that these cell types also have key molecular mediators in common, including Snail-family repressors and c-myc. Her laboratory exploits the considerable advantages of the Xenopus system in order to better understand the roles played by these and other factors during neural crest development and in tumor progression.