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Our research focuses on development of the vertebrate embryo, using frogs and the zebrafish, as model systems. Our lab studies two major topics. The first is development of the extreme anterior (front) of the embryo, a unique and important region. We pioneered the study of a simple organ, the mucus-secreting cement gland, as a marker for the extreme anterior in frogs and has used this to define the genetic network by which an organ is positioned. Our lab studies development of another extreme anterior organ, the primary mouth (the first mouth opening), which is essential for normal food ingestion and jaw development. As part of this study, we defined essential signaling factors for primary mouth formation.
The second focus is on development of the nervous system, including the genetic basis for formation of correct brain structure. The Sive laboratory defined some of the earliest molecular markers of the nervous system, answering the age-old question of when the embryo decides to make a nervous system. More recently, we have studied how the three dimensional structure of the brain is generated. Our focus includes understanding how the brain bends to pack into the skull, as well as analyzing development of the brain ventricular system - a system of fluid-filled cavities that form an essential circulatory system within the brain. Structural abnormalities of the brain are associated with devastating birth defects. Data from the Sive lab brings together genetics, molecular biology and imaging the brain at single cell resolution in the living embryo. The lab has analyzed multiple mutants with brain structural defects, and defined novel processes required to build normal brain structure.