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Cellular innovations in chordate development

Philip Abitua
Harvard University | Ph.D., Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology
Seminar date:
Monday, February 8, 2021 - 12:00 to 13:00
HCK 132

Each animal contains a rich diversity and lineage of cell types, equal in complexity to the diversity of animal species themselves. However, much less is known about the origins of cell type. Dr. Phil Abitua, who has done his graduate research with Mike Levine (UCB) and postdoc research with Alex Schier (Harvard), will speak on his work to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of two important vertebrate-specific cell types: neurogenic placodes and neural crest cells. In addition, he has recently begun to explore the cellular innovations of the annual killifish, which have inspired cell and developmental biologists in their unusual characteristics. Dr. Abitua is focusing on the cellular innovations that allow killifish embryos to enter diapause — or suspended development — at multiple points during development based on their environmental conditions, which in turn allows them to survive in a seasonally ephemeral aquatic habitat. Understanding how nature evolved cell types across distantly related chordate species will generate powerful insight, opening the door for precise, synthetic manipulations.

Fields of interest: