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Board Members

Nai-Chang Yeh
Co-Director

Keith Schwab
Co-Director

Harry A. Atwater, Jr.
Julia R. Greer
James R. Heath
Nathan S. Lewis
Oskar J. Painter
Michael L. Roukes
Axel Scherer
Kerry J. Vahala

 

image Scott E. Fraser
Anna L. Rosen Professor of Biology and Director, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center

B.S., Harvey Mudd College, 1976; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1979.

phone: 626.395.2848
location: Beckman Institute 133
mail code: 139-74

Research Group |

Developmental neurobiology, light microscopy, advanced imaging techniques.

The research in my group explores the patterning of cell lineages, cell migrations and axonal connections during vertebrate embryogenesis. Our goal is to develop new imaging techniques and experimental strategies that permit single-cell resolution studies of each of these key processes in intact developing embryos. We have refined cell microinjection techniques to permit the rapid and reliable injection of single cells in living embryos with vital dyes or other reagents; the marked cell and its progeny are followed using video, laser scanning confocal, laser scanning two-photon, or magnetic resonance microscopy. This offers the opportunity to examine directly the roles of the cell interactions, intercellular signals, and gene regulatory mechanisms proposed from cell culture and molecular biology studies.

Our research exploits a variety of technologies ranging from novel techniques for transgenesis to imaging with two-photon laser scanning microscopy in systems ranging from the frog to the mouse. These approaches allow us to follow the dynamic events that pattern the early embryo as they happen within the intact system. This allows us to assess not only the cellular motions that take place in vertebrate gastrulation, for example, but also that molecular cues that guide these motions. We view this approach as an important means to translate molecular insights into a more complete understanding of actual developmental events.

The goal of our approach is to carry analyses normally performed on cells in culture or in homogenates to the intact developing embryo. Given that there is no ideal imaging technology or developmental model system for all studies, we employ a parallel approach, utilizing experimental systems ranging from the frog to the mouse employing techniques ranging from transgenesis to MRI microscopy. By applying a vital imaging approach, we can circumvent the normal limitations of inferring cellular dynamics from static images or molecular data, and more directly assess the dynamics that pattern embryonic development.

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