Dr. Eric C. Swindell
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Department of Pediatrics
Our research focuses on the development of the vertebrate forebrain and eye. The early vertebrate brain arises from a sheet of ectoderm called the neural plate that is located at the anterior of the early embryo. This sheet of ectoderm eventually forms the neural tube that is partitioned into three vesicles representing the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. These vesicles are then patterned further to give rise to sub-regions that generate diverse but specific neuronal cell types. A region of the early forebrain evaginates toward the lateral surface ectoderm to form the retina. The vertebrate retina arises from this single layer of undifferentiated cells and forms a specific layered array of cell types. Proper function of the forebrain and eye depends on the correct formation, proliferation and differentiation of each of these cell types. We have identified a collection of zebrafish insertional mutant lines that display disrupted forebrain and eye development. Our objective is to use a combination of genetic, molecular and embryological methods in zebrafish and mouse to define the role of these mutants in the development of the early forebrain and eye.
Projects/Techniques: A tutorial in my laboratory would provide experience with modern zebrafish and mouse techniques including the analysis of gene expression by in situ hybridization in both model organisms, microinjection of early zebrafish embryos and conditional knock-out experiments in mice. Students will also gain experience in general molecular biology techniques.
Title: Assistant Professor
Ph.D. - Baylor College of Medicine - 2001